Mark Anderson played high school basketball for Valparaiso before graduating in 1996.

He was a sophomore in the bleachers when Bryce Drew and Tim Bishop led the Vikings to the 1994 state championship game.

But Anderson didn't score a lot when he was wearing the green and white all those years ago.

"I wasn't as skilled as my other classmates when I was at Valpo," Anderson said on Tuesday night. "I knew I wasn't going to get a ton of minutes. I gained an appreciation for coaching, for the game's strategies and trying to find a way to compete every night and get a win."

Anderson shared his hoops vision with the Wheeler Bearcats on Tuesday, after he was tabbed to lead the boys basketball program at the Greater South Shore Conference school.

His hiring is pending next week's school board approval.

But Anderson met with the players in his program before that, and also with the Bearcats' booster club.

"I'm excited about the talent we have coming back," Anderson said. "I'm glad I get to work with them this summer. I don't have to wait until the fall to see my guys."

Anderson replaces Tom Johnson, who began coaching at Wheeler in 2011 and had an 80-76 record in eight seasons.

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Anderson attended Indiana University, returned home and started teaching and coaching in the Region. He started as an assistant at Andrean, working with Luke Harangody, who went on to star at Notre Dame and play professionally, and a program that won three straight sectional championships.

In 2007, Anderson moved to Chesterton when he was hired by Tom Peller as an assistant. He has worked for Marc Urban the last two seasons for the Trojans.

"I am excited to be in a great community and school district," Anderson said. "The people here give a lot of support to the coaches and players. And the administration is very supportive for the student-athletes' academic development, which is something I strongly agree with."

While Anderson has been dealing with the competitive nature of the Duneland Athletic Conference for the last decade, he said he's excited to see the growing talent in the GSSC.

"We won't have a night off in the conference, all the teams are very good," Anderson said. "I want to build a team around defense first. I want us to be tough and determined. I want us to be smart on offense, to be a team that doesn't beat themselves."

Anderson will continue to teach at Chesterton as Wheeler has no teaching openings right now.

"They're getting a really good guy," Urban said. "He does things the right way. He'll be a great fit in their community. He's waited his turn and is ready for his opportunity.

"It's always difficult being an assistant. But he sees problems ahead of time, something a head coach may not notice, and he would tell me what he was seeing. He has a lot of knowledge of the game."

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Sports Reporter

Steve has won awards during two different stints at The Times. In addition to being the Prep Beat columnist, he covers football, boys basketball and boys track. He is a long-suffering Cubs fan.