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AlumNews: Talon Articles

Anderson given unique varsity opportunity

Monday, January 28, 2008  
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By Chad Hartwell

Zack Anderson didn’t think he would get the chance to play varsity basketball for Oklahoma Christian University when he started out on the junior varsity squad. However, with a number of injuries this season to varsity players, Anderson was chosen to join the Eagles.

According to head basketball coach Dan Hays, in past years only a handful of players have moved from the junior varsity to the varsity once the season has begun.

The need for additional varsity players on the men’s basketball team arose because of injuries. Junior Lionel Saban and senior Jared Mitchel sustained injuries earlier this season.

“We have to have a need for them,” Hays said. “When we lost Jared and Saban to injuries that put us a little short in practice, along with some other sicknesses.”

One of the other sicknesses affecting this team involved freshman Michael Nkollo who suffered from appendicitis.

“Nkollo played outstanding at the start, but then he had appendicitis and could only play a few games,” Hays said. “We needed a new guard for practice and for the scout team.”

Anderson, a sophomore, then made the move from the junior varsity team to the varsity squad.

“It was a great experience for me. I was humbled to be moved up,” Anderson said. “I know that the move is not something that happens very often so I was honored to be chosen.”

The move to the varsity team took Anderson by surprise.

“I did not expect this to happen at all,” Anderson said. “I came to Oklahoma Christian wanting to play varsity but never thinking it would happen. When it did happen, it was a complete surprise to me.”

Anderson played on the varsity team last year for five games. Anderson believes this contributed to him being selected to move up this year when the team needed help again.

Hays confirmed that Anderson’s exposure last year helped with the decision for this year.

“Last year when he played, we felt that he was the most sound and solid guy that could contribute both physically and mentally,” Hays said.

Even though Anderson’s experience from prior years played a part in this move, it was not the only factor considered.

“We wanted someone who can make other contributions and not just be coming up to play major minutes,” Hays said. “If they can’t be a team guy and be happy in that role, then we would not move them up.”

Junior Varsity coach Terril Hankins recommended Anderson to be moved up.

“Anderson came highly recommended from coach Hankins, and he is the one who gives the thumbs up or the thumbs down,” Hays said. “I might say, ‘We need someone, what do you think?’ and coach Hankins is the one who seals the deal.”

Hays said he does not believe there will be any other moves made this year from junior varsity to varsity and is pleased with Anderson’s contributions.

“I’ve been pleased because Zach has been a big plus since we made him full time,” Hays said. “He is a great team guy.”

Anderson tries to do his best every day now that he made the move to varsity.

“Knowing that you weren’t really recruited in the first place makes it a great challenge to go out and prove every day that you belong with a group of talented guys,” Anderson said.

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