This year, Kaden Anderson became the second male player of all-time to earn three straight Player of the Year awards in the PacWest Conference, set the PacWest record for most Player of the Week awards, and earned a Division II CIDA National Player of the Week honor.

On top of that, the sports management graduate student has held All-American honors twice, was selected to the PacWest Championships All-Tournament team, and was a consensus First-Team All-West Region selection during his time at PLNU.

While excitement spurs from the widespread recognition, Anderson does not take all of the credit for himself; remaining humble toward the chronicles of his PLNU basketball career and expressing utmost gratitude for his team.

“As far as awards go, I am super excited that I got them, but I would have not gotten them without the team or the coaching staff that we have. They’re always putting in the extra work,” Anderson said. “No one cares who is getting credit; we just have fun and like to win.”

THE DRIVE TO POINT LOMA

Born and raised in Enumclaw, WA, Anderson has been interested in sports from as early as he can remember. Childhood photos show him holding a basketball as a newborn, and once he was able to manage a dribble, his mastery of the ball matured from a recreation to a deepened passion.

Kaden Anderson shoots a free throw.

Anderson played basketball, baseball, and football while he was a student at Enumclaw High School (EHS), yet during his sophomore and junior years, he honed in on basketball with the hope of playing at the collegiate level. By his senior year, Anderson had opportunities to walk on at Division I schools and was talking to various NCAA Division II programs about furthering his basketball career. That is when he got a phone call from previous PLNU Head Coach Ryan Looney offering him a spot on the team.

“I did not really know where I wanted to go to college or play basketball,” Anderson said. “But when I went on my visit to Point Loma, I committed on the spot.”

While the consistent sunshine was a draw for the Washington native, so was the desire to improve on the court. The majority of PLNU’s team was returners when Anderson joined in the 2018-19 season. Thus, being new to the realm of collegiate-level basketball required patience and persistence.

“I did not really know where I wanted to go to college or play basketball,” Anderson said. “But when I went on my visit to Point Loma, I committed on the spot.”

“It was different than playing a lot on your high school team and being the main guy, coming into college and not playing as much. But I learned a lot with the team coming into freshman year,” Anderson said. “I had to work in my game and perfect my craft.”

Although his average points per game (ppg) in his senior year at EHS went from 18.8 to 3.9 as a first-year at PLNU, Anderson appeared in 35 games in the 2018-19 season, received a PacWest Freshman of the Week award, and helped the Sea Lions reach the NCAA DII Championship game.

WITH TENACITY COMES TRIUMPH

The team faced major changes going into the 2019-20 season, which included a complete coaching switch and only five returning players. At the time, Anderson admitted that he didn’t know what he was going to do. 

“Not a lot of people thought that we would be good because we lost a lot of players the year before,” Anderson said.

Yet the new coaching staff, Head Coach Matt Logie and Assistant Coach Julius Smith,  reassured the team that they were in good hands. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic cutting playoffs, the Sea Lions ended the season 24-6, with Anderson appearing in all 30 games. Leading the team in both categories, he averaged 16.2 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.

Kaden Anderson shoots the basketball against a defender.

The pandemic prevented the men’s team from having another complete season during Anderson’s third year. Due to travel restrictions, the Sea Lions only played 11 games; however, Anderson made the most of what he could. He started in all games, led the team in points (209) and rebounds (89) and was awarded the 2021 PacWest Player of the Year and DIICCA Honorable Mention All-American.

Anderson had a rough start to his junior year. In the first half of a 2021-22 preseason exhibition match against Pepperdine University, a player fell on Anderson’s knee, resulting in microfractures and cartilage damage. Anderson ended up missing 10 games.

“With all of the work that I put in, I was really bummed when that injury happened because I was in the best shape of my life. I was locked in, ready to play, and then I had to miss time. But overall, junior year made me realize how special the time you get is and to make the most of every moment,” Anderson said.

“Junior year made me realize how special the time you get is and to make the most of every moment.”

His tenacity was shown when he returned for the second half of the season. Anderson ended the season with an average of 21.1 ppg and 4.4 rebounds per game and was named PacWest Defender of the Week and 2022 PacWest Player of the Year.

Yet after playing the 2021-22 season with a bothersome arm, Anderson found out that he had a torn labrum and got shoulder surgery in March 2022. He graduated from PLNU with a bachelor’s in business administration between post-surgery rehab and preparing for the 2022-23 season.

“I went back and wasn’t in the best shape. But individual workouts with the assistant coaches have been huge to my player development,” Anderson said. “With our coaches, we’ve gotten to where we needed to be, and we’re having the year that we are now. There has been some adversity in these years, but with Coach Logie and our coaching staff, we are going to find ways to win.”

In March 2023, the PLNU men’s basketball team made PacWest history with a 23-game sweep, set a new PacWest record for 3-pointers made in a single contest (22), and won the PacWest Conference Championships.

NO “I” IN TEAM

The team’s success this season can be attributed to their dedication to the game and each other. Anderson said that before each game, Logie will put a word, motto, or quote at the bottom of the board to get the team locked in and will discuss the team’s goals.

“I think the biggest takeaway from this year so far has been how bought-in our team is: how well we get along, how selfless we are with the basketball, and how much we care about finding ways to win,” Anderson said. 

Before each season, the team goes on a retreat where the players – both newly committed and returners – and coaches bond. This year, the retreat was held in Idyllwild, Calif.; Anderson said that it helped the team mold into who they are now.

“At first, it can get uncomfortable because you don’t know everybody, but the coaches do a good job making sure that the discomfort breaks down so everyone is laughing and having a good time there. We did skits impersonating coaches or other teammates, blindfolded food challenges, and got assigned groups to hold each other accountable. It is really good overall from a bonding standpoint,” Anderson said.

Whether it is in the United States or overseas, Anderson intends to continue his basketball career at the professional level after he graduates in the spring. While his post-professional career plans are not set, he said that coaching is something he could definitely get into.

To catch up with our other athletic teams, visit plnusealions.com.

Katie Morris is a student at PLNU studying psychology and journalism. She’s currently the copy editor at The Point, PLNU’s student-run newspaper and is an intern at PLNU's Marketing and Creative Services.