Dwight Anderson, former Kentucky and USC basketball star, dies

Kentucky star Dwight Anderson drives past Duke University's Jim Suddath during a game on Nov. 19, 1979.
(Paul Benoit / Associated Press)

Dwight Anderson, who earned the nickname “The Blur” because of his speed on the court playing basketball at Kentucky and USC, has died. He was 61.

Anderson died Saturday at his home in Dayton, Ohio, according to the Montgomery County coroner’s office. The cause of death was not determined and autopsy results are pending.

The 6-foot-3 guard began his college career under coach Joe B. Hall at Kentucky, where he averaged 13.3 points and shot 51% from the field as a freshman during the 1979 season. He played in 11 games during the 1980 season for the Wildcats and averaged 10.7 points before transferring midseason to USC.


As a junior at USC in 1981, Anderson averaged 19.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 12 games. The following season he averaged 20.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 27 games. Anderson was selected All-Pac-10 first team and was an All-American honorable mention as he helped lead the Trojans to a 19-9 record and an NCAA tournament berth.

Anderson is remembered by USC fans for a behind-the-backboard shot against Washington on March 6, 1982, at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. He retrieved an errant pass along the baseline, spun in the air as he fell out of bounds and shot it over the backboard for a basket, which is now against the rules.

Al McGuire, who was broadcasting the game, exclaimed, “A star is born!”

Anderson was a McDonald’s All-American at Roth High in Dayton, where he averaged a triple-double of 38 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists as a senior.

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He was selected in the second round of the 1982 NBA draft by Washington but was cut in the preseason. He played five games with Denver in 1983. Anderson played four years in the Continental Basketball Assn. with a career average of 20 points. He was the league’s scoring champion in 1985.

By the early 1990s, Anderson’s basketball career had ended. He struggled with addiction issues for several years.

“I disappeared after that. I had no self-esteem, I just got high,” he told the Dayton Daily News. “I never thought about ballin’ again.“

Anderson later underwent treatment in Houston at John Lucas’ wellness and aftercare program. In 2011, he appeared to have turned his life around and he worked as an assistant coach at a high school in the Dayton area.

Funeral arrangements were pending.