Cole Anthony, a five-star recruit and considered one of the top players in the 2019 class, signed his letter of intent to play college basketball at the University of North Carolina on April 23. Anthony announced his commitment to UNC for the 2019-2020 season live on ESPN’s Get up! with Mike Greenberg.
Coach Roy Williams has been watching Anthony since the summer after his freshman year of high school, and began a big push last spring. Every time Williams saw him Anthony improved something new in his game.
Anthony has been billed as The One. He has the genes, his father is former UNLV and 11-year NBA veteran point guard Greg Anthony, and the support system in place. He has the inner drive and needed athletic gifts. He doesn’t just want to be a pro, he wants to be a great pro and continues to work hard toward that goal.
The number 2 recruit and the number 1 point guard in the ESPN 100, Anthony picked the Tar Heels over Notre Dame, Georgetown, and Oregon. Georgetown’s coach Patrick Ewing is his father’s former Knicks teammate and a close family friend. UNC’s winning tradition, style of play, and bond that Anthony built with Williams won out.
Anthony will arrive at UNC as one of the most decorated New York point guards in years. The MVP of the McDonald’s All-American Game and Jordan Brand Classic, he averaged triple-doubles at prep powerhouse Oak Hill Academy in Virginia. He won a gold medal with Team USA’s U-18 team in the FIBA Americas, was part of the all-tournament team, and was the regular season MVP of the AAU Nike Elite Youth Basketball League.
Just three years ago, UNC could not secure a commitment from a player of Anthony’s caliber because one-and-done prospects didn’t want to risk enrolling in a school that could face a postseason ban that would rob them of their only chance to ever play in the NCAA tournament. In 2015, 2016, and 2017, the years that the NCAA relaunched its investigation into UNC and then closed it, UNC enrolled just one five-star prospect while Kentucky enrolled 14 and Duke added 12 over that same time span. Although UNC played in the title game of the 2106 NCAA tournament and won the 2017 NCAA Tournament, there’s no denying it cost them recruits, Brandon Ingram for one, and changed the level of raw talent that normally resides in Chapel Hill.
But there’s no such risk in place now. So UNC is back to operating like the Tar Heels most of us know. Tuesday served as the latest reminder. By landing Cole Anthony, UNC shows it can get five-star recruits again and ththat its NCAA issues are long gone. Things are back to normal now.
With the NCAA cloud lifted, UNC has secured commitments from five-star prospects in back-to-back classes for the first time since 2010 and 2011. Last year, in the Class of 2018, it was Nassir Little and Coby White. In the Class of 2019, it’s Cole Anthony (so far).
The one-and-done hype is attached to Anthony. Fans at UNC expect Final Fours. But nobody expects more from Anthony than Anthony himself. His number 1 goal as a freshman is to get to the Final Four.
According to Williams, Anthony is an explosive guard, a dynamic scorer, and a rare two-way player who competes on both ends. He’s quick, fast, and relentless.
Projected as an instant-impact freshman, Anthony should help get UNC at the top of the ACC and on to the NCAA Final Four and beyond.