It was as if Al Anderson simply reinvented himself, transformed by his coach's comments.
It was 1977, Anderson’s junior year at Saint Martin’s College. He was coming off a sensational game, scoring 34 points in a win over George Fox. In the newspaper the next day, Anderson saw his coach’s comments.
“He said that’s the way we need to play,” Anderson said. “He said I didn’t have to get 30 every night. But if we could just get him his 20.”
That sparked his record-breaking season that landed him in the school’s hall of fame.
“It was like a jolt of motivation,” Anderson said.
His 14-point average ballooned to about 24 for the rest of the season. As a senior next season, Anderson averaged 24.2 points a game – setting a school record that still stands.
Today, Anderson, now 55 and living in Vancouver, Wash., will be one of three individuals inducted into the Saint Martin’s Athletic Hall of Fame. He’ll be joined by John Carr, the Saints’ leading basketball scorer in 1958 and a four-year letterman, and Justin Leone, an all-conference baseball player and the Seattle Mariners’ 13th-round draft pick in 1999.
Saint Martin’s 1982-83 men’s basketball team that won 15 games in a row and finished 28-5 will also be inducted.
Anderson was a sharp-shooting guard, who at 6-foot-5 often dwarfed defenders. Anderson recalls shooting 53 percent from the field his senior season and scoring 30 or more points eight or nine times. He season-high total was 44.
“He was a great shooter,” said Dick Kauffman, the coach who recruited Anderson Saint Martin’s, now 77 and living in Florida. “He could shoot anywhere on the floor. You almost had to start covering him right when he walked out of the dressing room.”
Anderson once scored 33 points in a single half, setting a school record that still stands.
“I think I could have averaged 30 if my coach had let me,” said Anderson, who played at Saint Martin’s from 1977-79.
Anderson played before the 3-point shot, which he thinks would have added a few points to his average.
Anderson played on Timberline High School’s 1973 basketball state runner-up, averaging 14.9 points. Greg Champlin averaged 15.5 on that team.
Anderson then played one season at Lower Columbia College before joining the Navy. After two years in the service he returned to Lower Columbia and averaged about 15 points.
Kauffman offered Anderson a scholarship and he accepted, turning down offers from Western Washington and Central Washington.
“It was my hometown,” Anderson said. “It wasn’t until I got to Saint Martin’s that I really became the go-to guy.”
After college, Anderson had a free-agent tryout with the Golden State Warriors. He made the team’s summer pro league team, but an ankle injury helped end his dream.
Anderson played five years of professional basketball in Germany. After that, he worked 27 years for the federal government and retired in December.
“I’ve got some great memories of Saint Martin’s,” Anderson said. “I haven’t been back for a long time. I’m looking forward to coming back.”
Gail Wood: 360-754-5443 firstname.lastname@example.org