On Senior Night at TCU, they introduced Kyan Anderson as “Fort Worth’s own.”
The crowd cheered him like a son.
Anderson stood on the court at Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center and listened to the standing ovation, saluting each side of the gym. The senior point guard from North Crowley must have felt right at home.
“Kyan didn’t have to go to TCU, and he didn’t have to stay at TCU,” said his high school coach, Tommy Brakel, watching in person. “People who really know the situation know that Kyan stayed at TCU because that’s where he wanted to be, and I think that loyalty factor means something to people.”
Anderson was recruited by former TCU coach Jim Christian. He stayed through the transition to new coach Trent Johnson and the move to the Big 12. He has racked up 116 starts, second-most in school history, became the all-time steals leader and No. 6 in points.
He played on good teams, fair teams and bad teams. Last year, most of the team he should have been leading was sidelined by injury or ineligible.
But Anderson did not waver.
It didn’t go unnoticed by the new coach who was also facing a difficult job — rebuilding a program taking its first steps in a powerful conference — and Anderson became an asset in the work.
“Kyan is as reliable as there is,” Johnson said. “He’s been there every game — every game for years. You look at his numbers, look at all the best players that have played here at TCU. He’s stayed the course. Reliable and consistent.”
Teammates noticed the same thing.
“One word that comes to mind is special,” said fellow senior Amric Fields. “You can just see what he’s done here, and he’s a special type of player. He’s moving up in our school history. He leads our school in steals. He’s got a knack for hitting big shots. He’s got ice water in his veins. He wants the ball for clutch shots. He’s a special player.”
TCU gets one more chance, at least, to see the specialness on display. Anderson and the Horned Frogs meet Kansas State in the first round of the Big 12 tournament on Wednesday. The winner meets top-seeded Kansas the next day in the quarterfinals.
Even after the uplifting emotion of Saturday night, which Anderson said left him nervous for a game for the first time in a long time, the chance to compete again is what Anderson was thinking about more than anything.
“It’s definitely a different feeling, for it to be your last game. But it’s over now,” he said. “Now I’m just looking forward to the next game.”
Johnson has heard that before. He has seen Anderson play despite back discomfort this year and without complaint about a short-handed team in the past.
“This group goes from the Mountain West to the Big 12, and a kid like Kyan, he inherits a team where guys are decimated by injuries,” Johnson said. “Nobody can understand what the magnitude of that is. He’s the primary ball-handler, and he’s the focal point of everybody’s defense, at his size.
“When you really stop and think about it, it speaks volumes to what he’s accomplished to this point.”
Anderson’s actions have to speak for him. He has an engaging, but soft-spoken personality. He hardly changes expressions on the court.
“Sometimes I ask him, ‘Are you having fun?’” Fields said with a smile. “Because he’s always got the same facial expression when he’s playing.
“But I know he does. I know because we’ve talked about it. I know he loves the game. He loves playing it.”
TCU has seen it. Fort Worth has seen it.
They showed it on Senior Night to one of their own.
Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407
Big 12 tournament
TCU vs. Kansas State
6 p.m. Wednesday, ESPNU
Where he ranks
Senior point guard Kyan Anderson ranks in the top six at TCU in several categories. The rundown: