Chantelle Anderson recalls Vandy, UT games

When Vanderbilt tips off against No. 4 Tennessee at 5 p.m. Sunday, it will be in front of a sellout crowd of 14,168 and an ESPN audience. The spotlight is nothing new to the two-time Kodak All-American and former WNBA star Chantelle Anderson, Vandy's all-time scoring leader. The 2002 SEC Player of the Year and ESPN Center of the Year will be honored at halftime when her jersey is retired.

Chantelle, who played professionally in France and Hungary before a six-year WNBA career with San Antonio and Atlanta, is now an assistant coach at West Palm Beach Atlantic in Florida. She is also writing her autobiography, "The Sane Side of Crazy."

With 2,604 points to her credit, Chantelle (2000-2003) is just two points ahead of second-place scoring leader Wendy Scholtens (1988-91), the only other female Commodore whose #40 jersey hangs in the rafters above every home game. Scholtens' retired jersey was inspiration to a freshman Chantelle, who confidently told former Head Coach Jim Foster that she would beat that record to become the all-time leading scorer.

"I was #40 coming out of high school and I couldn't wear it because it had recently been retired," Chantelle recalls. "I was like, ‘fine, I'm going to break her record.' That's when I switched to number 21, and I told Coach Foster. I was a freshman, not in shape, and hadn't stepped on court in a real game yet, and I make this bold remark to say I'm going to score over 2,600 points. He said if I was willing to work for it, he was willing to help me. He believed I could do it. From then on, I was surrounded by such great people in such a perfect system for me. That's what stands out - how good the fit was."

Stephanie Holzer, the current Commodore center and last week's SEC Player of the Week, wears #21 now. She will be able to continue wearing it since Vanderbilt does not retire numbers. Even so, Chantelle took last year's high profile recruit aside early in her first year to suggest Stephanie pick another jersey number.

"I wish Stephanie the best—you always like to see good players come through your program and I'm excited about how she's progressing with her game. I heard she was the highest touted post player to come to Vandy since my time there. I told her, ‘if you're going to be as good as everyone says, and as good as you say you want to be, then you should make that number great for you. People are always going to compare you.'"

There are many games and many potential honors to come before Stephanie can match or better Chantelle's record, which the 6-6 Vancouver, Wash., native said was helped by the quality athletes and friends teaming with her during that time.

"Where would I have been with Ashley Mac?" she ponders. Ashley McElhiney (2000-2003) was the program's all time assist leader with 673 before Dee Davis surpassed that record in 2007 with 730. She had already committed to Vanderbilt and was on campus to welcome Chantelle on her official visit.

"I would be nowhere without her. She was my sidekick. We did so much together. Ash and I took our official visits at the same time, and she was already committed and was trying to convince me to come. I fell in love with Vandy's gym because it's old and artsy. We both fantasized about how we could play in this uniquely cool gym. Neither of us had any idea we would graduate being the all-time leading assist person and all-time leading scorer."

Chantelle adds that Zuzi Klimesova (1,867 points) Jillian Danker (1,134 points) and Ashley (1,093 points), all contributed in that successful era. "It was not all just me, and I love that. The coaching staff, the environment, the mentoring, the team atmosphere all helped to get me there. I'm just so thankful and blessed it worked out the way it did."

Eager to watch Vandy play its number one rival, Chantelle recalls her best game against the Lady Vols – February 2, 2002.

"In my sophomore year, Michelle Snow had dunked against us in our gym. It made me so mad; the next year [2002] when we played them at Vandy, the score was tied at the half, but I had zero points. The play before the half, Michelle got a breakaway, and I fouled her so hard, thinking there's no way she's dunking on us. So in the half, my post coach Pete Gaudet said, ‘This is the game where you decide what type of player you want to be—the kind to show up in big games, or the type that your teammates don't know who they're going to get.' So I said, "Okay, I wanted to be the player they could depend on. I scored 22 points in second half and we blew them out on our court."

The score was 76-59 for the Vanderbilt win and the ‘Dores outscored Tennessee 47-30 in the final 20 minutes. Michelle Snow ended with 10 points. When her jersey takes its place alongside Scholtens', after the camera crews and crowd have departed, what will the honor mean to a woman with so many achievements?

"It's such an honor because Vandy women's basketball has been on the national stage for a long time. It's an historically good program, and from all those great players and good teams, and for me to be only the second woman to have her jersey retired, it's incredible. I'm so excited. The system I was playing in was just the best for me that it could have been. I am thankful more than anything."

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