Another summer in Lexington, another top-ranked recruiting class comes in. Kentucky has had its share of star freshmen. But before 2016… before Towns, Davis and Wall… before even Rex Chapman, there was Dwight Anderson.
A 6-3 guard from Dayton, OH, Dwight Anderson led his high school team to a state championship as a sophomore. As a senior, he averaged an insane stat line of 38 points/14 rebounds/11 assists and finished high school as the top-ranked prep player. He chose to attend the University of Kentucky, college basketball’s reigning champion.
Anderson brought immediate impact as a freshman. Nicknamed "The Blur" because of his vision-impairing speed, Anderson complemented his supreme athletic ability with a relentless defensive presence and an advanced offensive skill set. His game was electrifying, similar to what Kentucky fans would experience with John Wall three decades later.
Early in the 1978-79 season, Anderson scored 17 points in a victory over #8 Syracuse. The following game, at Freedom Hall, Anderson scored another 17 points vs. #2 Notre Dame. The following dunk over Orlando Woolridge began a 25-11 run to ignite UK’s comeback victory (final score 81-76).
After the Notre Dame performance, Anderson gained national attention and secured a spot in UK’s starting lineup. Later in the season, Anderson had four consecutive 20+ point games, an accomplishment that would not be repeated by a UK freshman until Alex Poythress in 2012. Anderson finished the season averaging 13.3 points (a UK freshman record, min. 20 games) on 50.7% shooting.
Following a promising freshman year, things didn’t click during Anderson’s 2nd year in Lexington. While some speculated that drug use led to him leaving the team mid-season, Anderson insisted that wasn’t the case, only saying assistant coach Leonard Hamilton asked him to leave. In 1980, Anderson wound up transferring to USC.
As a senior at USC, Dwight Anderson was honorable mention All-America in 1982. He was drafted 41st Overall by the Washington Bullets and saw only 5 games of NBA action. He later bounced around lower-level professional teams, mostly in the CBA.
Anderson’s drug use, which he says began in California, derailed his career and created many post-basketball hardships; at one point he was homeless. Eventually, he found help – with the assistance of former UK teammate Dirk Minniefield, at John Lucas’ rehabilitation program.
Since his recovery, Anderson has shared his story with many. This includes a documentary, The Blur: The Dwight Anderson Story, released in 2015.
Kentucky fans got to experience Dwight Anderson for 40 games. While we can all wonder what could have been, he provided the kind of star power that UK fans rarely saw in a freshman before Calipari became head coach.
More information on Dwight Anderson’s life can be found at the following links, in addition to the aforementioned documentary:
Other sources: Sports-Reference, Kentucky Statistics Main Page