Shoulder surgery shelves Anderson…for now


Senior Tyler Anderson was minutes into the first game of his final season of college basketball, in the starting lineup and relishing a one-hundred percent healthy body.

At 6’4” and with quick feet and a long stride, Anderson knew he could track down Gustavus Adolphus University’s Gary Cooper, who was headed the other way on a fastbreak.

Anderson not only caught up to Cooper, but swatted his shot away from behind, preventing the layup.

Seconds later, the Simpson College men’s basketball team wished he hadn’t caught up to Cooper, as in the process, Anderson’s left arm got caught against the backboard while his body kept moving forward.

Result: dislocated shoulder and torn labrum.

Anderson, who transferred from Truman State University last year, already had back surgery to correct a disk problem.

He’d had enough with injuries.

“It was rough,” Anderson said. “Being in the first game of the season and here I got hurt and I was like, ‘Oh man, this again’.”

At first, doctors projected for him to return to play on Jan. 7 against Coe to kick off Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play.

Jan. 7 came and went and the left shoulder wasn’t agreeing with Anderson.

It was either surgery or an 80 percent chance the shoulder would slip out of place again.

Anderson would select surgery, but in turn would end his senior season; but not his Simpson career.

Tyler came to select to return for a fifth year, having a year of eligibility intact from the injury-stunted season.

“From the point he got injured and eventually announced he’d have surgery, I expected him to come back,” Anderson’s roommate and teammate Leif Olson said. “Tyler is tough. Almost to a fault.”

Coming out of West Des Moines Valley High School, Anderson was heavily recruited by Simpson.

Unfortunately for the Storm, the draw of scholarship money from DII Truman State couldn’t be passed up. Plus, Truman’s coach was previously at Waukee High School and knew Anderson from high school ball.

At Truman State, Anderson started at forward as a freshman, but a nagging back injury forced Anderson to get surgery, eventually leading to his transfer.

“After I had surgery, my coach at Truman was pushing me to come back and I simply wasn’t ready,” Anderson said. “Plus my grandfather got sick and I decided to be with family and transfer to Simpson.”

Although it was hard to leave his teammates at Truman, once Anderson was on the market, Simpson’s coaching staff was all over it, making him at home quickly.

At Simpson, Anderson was able to transition quickly into his sports administration major and basketball, getting the chance to play small forward, a more comfortable position for the versatile Anderson.

The comfort in his new role and school showed as he averaged 9.3 points per game and a team-leading 4.6 rebounds per contest

Head coach Charles Zanders and company look forward to getting that versatility back in the lineup next season.

“We’ve had some guys filling in nicely, but Tyler has been hard to replace at his size, athletic ability and skill,” Zanders said. 

When Anderson dealt with his back injury, Anderson really focused on strengthening his arms and upper body.

In the six month expected recovery period before Anderson can get back on the court, the to-be fifth year senior looks to become more aggressive.

“I’m kind of glad I hurt my upper body,” Anderson said. “I’m going to work on my lower body, looking to be quicker more explosive.”

Right now, Anderson has been working on his mental game, taking the back-seat on the bench to learn the game and understand his teammates’ tendencies as a coach would.

Tyler, who was described by Olson as calm and reserved in their Detroit apartment, flips the vocal and fiery switch of a leader on the court.

“On the court he’s very vocal, aggressive, tough and a good leader.” Olson said. “And because he’s been an assistant coach essentially for the past few months, getting him back is going to be huge.”

So while he expects to be one of the featured producers on the team that loses leading scorer, Charles Swain, next season, Anderson hopes to apply the new knowledge and perspective as an on-the-court coach next season.

He’ll keep it simple though, because at the end of the day it’s just basketball he’ll be playing.

“Tyler is one of those guys that is always like, ‘you know the hoop is 10 feet high’ nothing changes for him,” Olson said. “And now he’ll be back for a fifth year, adding a whole level of experience that none of us have experienced.”