Joe Anderson, a construction worker, said he lost count of how many college basketball coaches had come to his house to see his son, Dwight.

Dwight Anderson, 6-foot-3 and 181 pounds, was the Ohio high school player of the year last season, averaging 38 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists a game for Dayton's Roth High School. A blue-chipper coveted by America's basketball treasure hunters, Anderson has announced he will attend the University of Kentucky.

"When all the coaches started trying to get him," Joe Anderson said, "they came around here in threes. I don't know how many schools there are, but they've all been here. I tell them I wish I had 12 of Dwight to spread around."

The recruiting has been fun, the father said. "At first, it bothered me. It hit all at once. It kinda got on my nerves. Coaches calling, coming, calling.

"But then - "

Here Anderson smiled.

" - then my friends got to patting me on the back and people started saying "That's Dwight mom and dad.' I got to liking it. It makes you feel proud. Not as proud as Dwight, of course."

Anderson laughed. "I just wish it was me," he said.

Dwight Anderson is 18 years old. He loves the attention. The governor of Kentucky, Julian Carroll, dogs his every step at a Kentucky game. "I couldn't get rid of the man," Anderson said. Letter writers, girls in the hallway at school, people on the street, coaches - they all like Dwight Anderson, basketball player extraordinaire and Anderson likes them all.

"I like meeting the important people," he said. "The coaches, I like them. Joe Hall (Kentucky), Don Donoher (Dayton), Johnny Orr (Michigan). Newton (Alabama), Dean Smith (North Carolina), Lefty Driesell (Maryland). They all have been here. North Carolina was my school at first, but they just cut me off. I don't know why. Maryland was my second top team. But I didn't like their dorm. It didn't look too good."

Ultimately, the wooing of Anderson came down to two suitors, the hometown University of Dayton against Kentucky, whose campus is less than a three-hour drive from here. And even then, Anderson said, he was mostly just being nice to the hometowners. He liked Kentucky best all along.

"It's nice down at Kentucky," he said. "They've got that new house for the basketball players. The rooms are real nice."

Anderson emphasized the "real nice," as he should when speaking of rooms in a $700,000 house designed and decorated in a ski-lodge motif. The Anderson home at 316 Westwood Ave. is neat, clean and probably would fit in the two-story lobby of Joe B. Hall Wildcat Lodge.

Anderson first was exposed to Kentucky two summers ago when, as a high school junior, he attended a basketball camp at the university Kentucky's containing attention impressed Anderson.

"Nobody knew about me back then," he said. "Like Georgetown. Their coach is a real nice guy, John Thompson. They played here in the NIT and I went in their locker room. He told his players to throw in the trunk of the car and kidnap me. I really like Georgetown, but they were just too late.

"UCLA the same thing. They called. They were going to send an assistant coach out here. Well, I like to see the head coach. It makes me think they're interested. Detroit, too. They messed around. Late, man. If all of them showed interest from the start, Kentucky would probably be fifth on my list."

But Kentucky was in early and stayed. In time, it was even discovered that Dwight Anderson, whose father spent the first six years of life in Morganfield, Ky., was a second cousin of a Kentucky player, Dwane Casey, from that little town. You never know what will help in recruiting.

On his official visit to Kentucky, Anderson saw the Wildcats play Nevada-Las Vegas in a nationally televised game in a sold-out Rupp Arena seating 23,000 fans. The game was all right, he said, but what he remembers most is eating.

"When I go visit these colleges, they make you eat, especially at Kentucky," he said. "I ate and ate and ate. I ate one of those 18-ounce steaks. They had dances. And they had a reception after the game. I met a lot of people. Like the governor. I don't know who everybody else was."

Anderson said his grades are average, that he has the necessary 2.0 (C) average to qualify for an athletic scholarship. "But don't think I'm brain," he cautioned. Fact is, one thing he liked about Kentucky was its promise of tutorial help. He said some school wouldn't promise that.

In the end, basketball was all that really mattered, Anderson said. "I like they way Kentucky plays, organized and still running," he said. "Dayton just doesn't do anything. I'll go to Dayton games and I clap like this (politely, barely audibly). You'll see me jumping up and down for Kentucky. I'm a Kentucky man."

Whereupon Dwight Anderson executed a 180-degree spin in the air.

He can do a lot of that jumping.

"He is the most talented prospect in the country," said Bill Olsen, an assistant coach at the University of Louisville. "He's a Nevada-Las Vegas type player. He really moves with the ball and has great individual moves. I've never seen a guy get up the floor with the ball faster than Dwight. He goes like a 9-flat sprinter and makes everybody else look like they're doing it in 12 flat."

Anderson, a guard, also thinks he's pretty good. That's why he wears a white wristband on his right bicep.

"I wanted to do something different," he said. "Now you see little kids around here wearing that wristband up there. I just want to be different. If I could put my socks on different, I would.

"I like for people to get excited when I do something. I'm a crowd-pleaser. Like if I get a clear shot at the hole, I don't just lay it up, I throw it down!"

Someone asked Anderson if he is a good jumper.

"I get this much over the rim,"

Anderson said. Raising his right arm overhead, he touched a spot near his elbow. That means his head practically hits the rim.

"Is that good?" he said. "I really don't know. I only jump as high as I need to." Dwight Anderson smiled coyly.