The 2020 NBA draft was only days ago. The draft was headlined by names such as Anthony Edwards and Lamelo Ball, but this draft class looked a whole lot different at the beginning of the year. A mock draft upon the season had Cole Anthony, the number two ranked player in all of high school for the 2019 class, going in the top three. After committing to the University of North Carolina, the sky was the limit for this 6’3” athletic point guard. An injury-riddled and inefficient singular season at UNC caused his draft stock to plummet immensely. With the 15th pick, the Orlando Magic capitalized and took the prospect that, only a year ago, was dubbed the best player in this entire draft. The tale of Cole Anthony is synonymous to that of a storybook in which he hopes to have a similar, triumphant ending.
Growing up, basketball was Anthony’s life. His father, Greg Anthony, played in the NBA for 11 years and is now an NBA analyst. Anthony worked with his father to become the best player he can be and many say that he’s already better than his father was. Entering high school, hopes were high for this insanely athletic guard.
During his senior year at Oak Hill Academy, Anthony managed to average a triple double with splits of 17.8 points,10 rebounds and 10 assists per game. This caused him to be ranked only behind James Wiseman in the high school class of 2019. With almost every single college in the nation recruiting him, Anthony narrowed his list down to four colleges: Georgetown, North Carolina, Notre Dame, and Oregon. Anthony appeared on the show Get Up! and revealed to the world that he would be attending the University of North Carolina. At first glance, it looked like an amazing decision. A storied school with winning in their blood is appealing to any top prospect looking to be successful at the next level. Little did anyone know the struggles he would face at this esteemed college.
Early in the college season, Anthony would undergo a surgery to repair the slightly torn meniscus in his right knee. This injury sidelined him for 4-6 weeks and certainly stunted his growth as a player. Without him, North Carolina seemingly fell apart. Even when he came back, the team simply struggled to win games, finishing with a disappointing 14-19 record; Anthony averaged 18.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 4 assists on 38% shooting from the field and 34.8% from deep. His efficiency made scouts raise their eyebrows and ultimately made his draft stock plummet. Although a fair concept, the statistics when regarding Anthony didn’t tell the whole story. The stats don’t mention the fact that the UNC team Anthony was handed the keys to simply wasn’t good. He was seemingly the only player who could create his own shot and, in turn, he was forced to take tough shots night in and night out. This no doubt hurt his percentages at least a little bit. Nonetheless, Anthony entered the draft and waited to hear his name called on draft night.
Although some had Anthony going to a team like the Knicks with the eighth pick, his most likely destination was somewhere outside of the lottery. The Magic took him with their 15th pick. As he cried tears of joy while being interviewed, Anthony recognized that this was only the beginning and that he was ready to get to work.
It’s safe to say the whole world will be watching this young man as he ventures deeper and deeper into his basketball career.