By Mickey Furfari
For The Register-Herald
Not even the legendary Jerry West matched the achievement of the late Jerome Anderson in West Virginia University men’s basketball history.
The 6-foot-5, 190-pound forward/guard from Mullens was named a team co-captain each of his three varsity seasons in 1973-74-75.
Anderson died in Sweden on Aug. 1, 2009, at the age of 55. He became so sick he could not return home. He lost a long battle with leukemia.
Warren Baker, who was Anderson’s roommate for two years, had known him since the pair played in a tournament of 15-year-olds in the Greenbrier area.
“Jerome was a great guy both on and off the basketball court,” Baker recalled recently. “He was coaching and playing basketball in Europe after graduating.
“He could play either the point or two-guard position,” said Baker, who was a year behind Anderson and could play four years of varsity.
Anderson led Mullens High School to the 1970 Class AA state championship before enrolling at WVU. Then he was a standout on the freshman team.
For his three seasons of varsity competition, he scored 971 points (12.6 per game). He had good scoring balance with annual averages of 12.1, 11.5 and 14.1 ppg.
Anderson, who played in 77 games, made 303 of 809 shots from the field (45.2 percent) and 253 of 285 free throws (73.1 percent). He also has 202 assists and 491 rebounds.
He went into the NBA and saw action with the world champion Boston Celtics (1975-76) and the Indiana Pacers (1976-77).
“He and I played together on a semi-pro team in Wheeling,” said Baker, who now teaches at Fairmont State. “Then we went to Europe.
“But I came back to the U.S., when he started coaching and playing in Sweden.”
Dan Stillwell, a veteran sports writer for the Beckley Register-Herald, wrote an excellent story about Anderson when he died.
He quoted Don Nuckols, Mullens High School coach, at length.
“In my opinion, Jerome Anderson was as good as any player to play at Mullens High, the veteran mentor said.
“Jerome could take players to the hoop. He could go to the glass and use the backboard, so smooth it was unbelievable.”
Nuckols also told Stillwell that for a big man, the way Anderson handled the ball and shot it impressed him. It was hard to slow Anderson down.
Nuckols said he always would remember Anderson for the person he was, as well as the player he was.
At WVU, Sonny Moran coached Anderson two years and Joedy Gardner the last year.