BY MICHAEL KELLY
CLIFTON PARK — Twenty boys made up last summer’s USA Baseball U18 national team, which won a world championship in Japan.
Twenty-six players were selected this past May to try out for this summer’s USA Basketball Men’s U18 national team, which will compete in July in Chile with berths to next year’s U19 World Championship tournament at stake.
Ian Anderson was one of those first 20, while Kevin Huerter is a part of that second group of athletes.
In hindsight, perhaps it was a little unfair when those two boys were teamed up playing travel baseball together as young as 7 and 8 years old.
“I’ll tell you what, it was a heck of a group,” said a laughing Bob Anderson, Ian’s father, who helped coach those travel baseball teams along with Tom Huerter, Kevin’s dad. “The success of that whole group has continued all the way through, too.”
Ian Anderson and Kevin Huerter, now both Shenendehowa seniors, have been at the middle of that success. The boyhood friends and teammates helped their school’s baseball team qualify for this upcoming weekend’s state semifinals, the latest accomplishment for a pair of athletes who combined to help their youth summer travel team — the Clifton Park Knights — to success in a number of national tournaments for a decade.
As Bob Anderson pointed out, that team annually included other current Shenendehowa baseball standouts, such as seniors Nik Malachowski and Ben Anderson, Ian’s twin brother.
But it was typically Ian Anderson and Kevin Huerter who led those teams, which played in multiple youth baseball World Series tournaments.
“If Kevin was pitching, Ian would play shortstop,” Tom Huerter said. “If Ian was pitching, Kevin was playing shortstop. They were interchangeable.”
On the baseball diamond, that’s changed in recent years. Ian Anderson was projected as a first-round pick in the June 9 Major League Baseball amateur draft, while Kevin Huerter — the state’s reigning Mr. Basketball, who is set to attend the University of Maryland — has become one of the country’s top prep players on the hardwood.
When competing at the youngest levels, both Bob Anderson and Tom Huerter knew their sons had potential.
But becoming this good?
C’mon. Neither saw that coming.
“It is impossible not to be shocked,” Tom Huerter said.
“But we saw their ability, the desire, how hard they worked,” said Bob Anderson, the former Schalmont varsity baseball coach. “We knew [potential] was there.”
While Ian Anderson has already competed at the world level, Kevin Huerter still has tryouts to cut down the initial list of 26 players to a dozen. Kevin Huerter’s first tryout session runs from June 14-18 in Colorado, with final team selections coming after a July 11-15 camp in Texas. If Huerter makes the roster, he’ll represent the United States in the July 19-23 FIBA Americas U18 Championships.
“I’m happy for him and I know it will be a great experience for him,” Ian Anderson said. “All the USA programs, they all do a great job and I think he’s going to go out there and have a good chance at making the team.”
Kevin Huerter said the two friends have not discussed his upcoming tryouts. Any advice can wait until next week. Right now, he said, the top priority is on enjoying one final week together as teammates.
“We’ve been friends our whole life,” Kevin Huerter said.