Living The Dream
HUTCHINSON, Kan – One of the more interesting parts about taking in the National Junior College Tournament this week has been watching a pair of guys who helped get Arkansas to the top back in the day.
Both Mike Anderson and Scott Edgar had important roles as assistants under Nolan Richardson in helping the program to the point where it won the national title in 1994.
Edgar, who once coached Anderson on Richardson's staff at Tulsa and is now the head coach at Eastern Oklahoma Community College, helped start the Memphis-to-Fayetteville pipeline for Arkansas before going on to Murray State as a head coach in 1991.
He was also actually the coach of the first team to play Arkansas in Bud Walton Arena when he brought Murray State in back during November of 1993.
He would also have a head coaching stint at Duquesne and assitant gigs at TCU, UAB (under Anderson) and Tennessee before getting another head coaching job at Southeastern Missouri that ended badly. Anderson, who stayed with Richardson for the entire 17 years he was at the helm of the Razorbacks, then went on to coach at UAB and Missouri before taking over Arkansas last spring.
"I think there are great days ahead for Arkansas," Edgar said. "Mike got a tremendous amount out of this team, but I think most of them were freshmen and they had to play so hard that they got tired at the end and tailed off.
"I think Razorback fans have tremendous days ahead of them and I think that one day again soon Arkansas fans will be outdrawing the Kentucky fans at the Southeastern Conference Tournament again like it used to be," Edgar added. "I think people are in for a real treat."
On Wednesday, Anderson was looking on from the stands as Edgar – who has recruited or coached 16 NBA players - guided his team into the NJCAA Tournament semifinals.
Edgar thinks that he, Anderson and all of Richardson's former assistants are able to see things in recruits that some overlook.
"Our family has kind of been able to go - and we've gotten some All-American like Todd (Day) Lee (Mayberry) and Corliss (Williamson), but we have always been able to find guys that were as good or better than others were getting because they had All-American hearts," Edgar said. "There is a knack for seeing things that others don't see. That's what I have done and what Mike will do at Arkansas."
Edgar, who ran afoul of NCAA rules while at Southeast Missouri State and was out of basketball for three yearsl, has certainly done that while rebounding to write quite a story at the school in Wilburton, Okla.
He took over after the school's 0-23 season in 2009-2010, immediately led it to 19 wins in 2010-2011 and then to the national tournament this season.
The Mountaineers are now 32-3 and two wins away from a national title after downing Spartanburg Methodist 79-70 on Wednesday.
His team advanced to play Friday against South Plains (Texas) CC, ironically coached by former Razorbacks assistant Steve Green – who was on Eddie Sutton's staff.
"It is quite amazing," Edgar said. "There were three parts that were flat. One was my career, because I felt like I was undeservedly – in a lot of ways – blackballed (from major college basketball). I was in the unemployment line.
"I went and got a bunch of kids (six) from Memphis, who didn't play in the top high school programs, who didn't play in the top AAU programs," added Edgar, who said he has now coached 30 kids from Memphis at his various stops. "Their careers were going somewhere, but they really didn't know where.
"Then we all went to a place that had just won zero games," Edgar continued. "We went in there and they bought in and on 19 games last year. But I told them when we lost in the (regional semifinals) last season that this was not the end and we were not putting a period on the season, but we were all back next year and we were putting a comma on it and coming back for more."
Eastern Oklahoma – who also has former Arkansas star Lee Mayberry's nephew Therone Chilton - upset defending national champ College of Southern Idaho 76-69 in the opening round on Tuesday.
"Anytime you come to a tournament, it's survive and advance, whether it's a regional or the national tournament," Edgar said. "We drew last year's champion, but our guys are pretty good. They are good players, but they have got hearts of champions. We are beaten and battered, but they just find ways to win.
"God has been so good to us in so, so many ways," Edgar added. "We have truly been spiritually touched in so many ways."
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