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Gonzaga-Pacific key matchup: Former NIC player Alphonso Anderson thriving at fifth college

A Google search of Alphonso Anderson’s name will return a variety of results: Alphonso Anderson, University of Montana basketball player in 2016-17; Alphonso Anderson, Moberly Area Community College (Missouri) in 2017-18; Alphonso Anderson, North Idaho College basketball player in 2018-19; Alphonso Anderson, Utah State basketball player in 2019-21; Alphonso Anderson, University of Pacific basketball player from 2021 to the present.

If a few more shots had dropped for Pacific on Tuesday at USC, the well-traveled senior wing may have found his name in a few more Web searches. Anderson was the game’s leading scorer, pouring in 22 points as Pacific, a team that ranks No. 278 in KenPom, nearly staged an upset of the No. 21 Trojans before coming up short 74-68 at the Galen Center.

Another 20-point outing could come in handy for Anderson as he and the Tigers brace for their second Top 25 opponent in three days - Gonzaga - not to mention a program with which the Tacoma native, Garfield High product and former NIC player should be vaguely familiar.

Few players own a college basketball passport with as many stamps as that of Anderson, a sixth-year senior who’s been on a roster at five schools in five states.

For perspective, Gonzaga freshman Chet Holmgren, one of the Bulldogs likely to take on defensive duties against Anderson on Thursday, was still in eighth grade when Pacific’s leading scorer (11.4 ppg) opened his career at Montana.

A meniscus tear during his final high school season kept Anderson away from the court in Missoula as a freshman in 2016-17.

Following a short stint at Missouri’s Moberly Area CC, he landed at NIC the following spring, averaging 15.6 ppg for a team that won the Northwest Athletic Conference with a 31-2 record. In two years at Utah State, Anderson played in 64 games and averaged 7.5 ppg en route to being named Mountain West Sixth Man of the Year in 2020-21 and helping lead the Aggies to the 2021 NCAA Tournament.

When Utah State coach Craig Smith left for Utah, Anderson entered the transfer portal as a graduate student and decided to cap a long, winding college basketball career at Pacific.

Anderson’s led the Tigers in scoring and came two points shy of matching his career high in Tuesday’s near upset of USC. The senior has struggled with efficiency, dropping below 40% from the field for the first time since he made the jump to Division I, and he’s been hit-or-miss from the 3-point line, connecting on 35%.

The scoring numbers don’t tell the entire story for Anderson, who’s also averaging a team-high 6.7 rebounds per game after finishing with nine at USC. At 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds, Anderson has also used his length to disrupt passing lanes, picking off 11 steals in the past five games, including five against Pepperdine.