Tokyo is a long way from Columbia – 6,303 miles to be exact.
For Yvonne Anderson, traveling the world to apply her hardwood art has been how she spent her adult life.
Former women’s basketball star Hickman is finishing her first Olympics as a full member of the Serbian national team.
Serbia have a chance to win a medal at the Olympics, facing France on Saturday morning in the bronze medal match.
Anderson, born in the United States as the daughter of former Missouri men’s basketball coach Mike Anderson, is eligible to play for Serbia thanks to a rule that allows countries to select players with dual citizenship or who become naturalized.
European professional teams are limited in the number of Americans they can sign. The fact that Anderson has a Serbian passport facilitates employment opportunities.
Last season Anderson played with Reyer Venezia in Italy and will return there next season after a short post-Olympic hiatus, which will include his first trip to the United States in a year.
Anderson said representing the United States internationally is still unlikely.
“As an American, you really can’t consider it if you’re not WNBA, if you’re not in the top 12 in the United States,” Anderson said. “It’s a long list of players there.”
Anderson played Hickman from 2006-2008 and chose to play college in Texas, choosing the Longhorns over Missouri and Illinois.
Although she only played two seasons at Hickman, Anderson ended her career at Kewpie with 1,201 points – third in school history behind Emily Miller and Missy Stringham.
With a full career at Kewpie, Tonya Mirts, longtime former head coach of women’s basketball Hickman, believes Anderson would have broken the all-time points record.
“Yvonne was just a game-changer,” said Mirts. “And that’s what separated her – she could split the defenders, even if it looked like their shoes were touching. She only needed about a quarter of an inch to get in between people. ‘she could reach for the hoop at any time, it didn’t work out regardless.
“Yvonne was so strong she could get banged and keep raising and straightening her shoulders and getting some wonderful shots. She made a career out of lay-ups because no one could stop her from going to the hole. . But she made more and -1s, traditional 3-point games than anyone I’ve ever coached just because she was so strong. “
The Missouri Basketball Coaches Associated named Anderson the state’s top player for the 2007-08 season. She was also named to the Street & Smith High School All-American team.
“She really did things that normal high school kids don’t do,” Mirts said of Anderson. “… Yvonne, she was a great passer and she knew the game extremely well. So she was exciting and fun to play with her teammates because she found them and put them in place. She got so much attention. And while she could end at will, she got everyone involved in the game and gave them easy shots. “
Contacts between Mirts and Anderson have been limited since the start of the former Player of the Year’s international career.
Mirts attends a wedding dress fitting for her daughter on Saturday morning and is due to attend the wedding of another former player in Kansas City this weekend.
But it saves Serbia against France. And Mirts will hit play once she has time to watch a player she’s trained apply her craft once again on the Olympic stage.
“It’s just super exciting to see, first of all, one of his intense dreams,” Mirts said of Anderson. “And having the opportunity to do it is really cool and special. There are just so few athletes to have the opportunity to do something like that. And good for her. It’s really exciting. that she makes her dream come true. “
Anderson averaged 8.1 points and 2.8 assists during his time in Austin. Anderson then embarked on a globe-trotting basketball career that took her to Sweden, Luxembourg, Greece and Turkey, among others.
Serbia’s women’s basketball head coach Marina Maljkovic noticed Anderson in 2015-16 playing for a lower-level Italian team and hired her the following year to play for Galtasaray, a top-level club based in Istanbul.
Following:Mike Anderson’s time in Mizzou
Just before the coronavirus shut down the sport, Anderson got a call from Maljkovic, asking if she would be interested in playing for Serbia if the nation qualified for the Olympics.
“Without hesitation I accepted, because I believe in her and the way she coaches, her style, and I know the quality of this team and I knew we had a chance to win,” said Anderson.
Playing against the United States, instead of their homeland, was something Anderson did on Friday, with the United States defeating Serbia 79-59 in the semifinals.
Against the Americans, Anderson came off the bench and tried to push the pace, but ultimately the United States was too talented.
Anderson finished with 15 points, the team’s top, making 6 of 16 shots.
Anderson believes that participating in the Olympics is the easiest way to explain to his family what it means to become a Serbian citizen.
“The more I got involved with the national team, the more they started to understand what type of opportunity it was,” said Anderson. “It’s not just the Olympics, it’s huge, but the European Championships, playing against the best teams in Europe, better opportunities in basketball abroad. It helps from a career point of view, from a financial point of view, and you have the opportunity to play in something that man a lot of players don’t have, especially Americans.
Following:Columbia declares Karissa Schweizer Day in honor of Olympian Mizzou on Saturday
Yvonne, 31, is the youngest of Mike Anderson’s three children. The former Tigers coach now runs the program in St. John’s.
“Where she goes, I go. We’ll be wide awake at 4:30 in the morning, ”Mike Anderson told The New York Post last month. “Seeing her at this point, for me and my wife, it’s amazing what she’s done. We are talking about the whole world. These are all countries represented and you have a daughter attending – that tells me she is special.
Contact Eric Blum at [email protected] Follow @ByEricBlum on Twitter.
Dan Wolken of USA Today and The Associated Press contributed to this story.