Three-Point Play: Cole Anthony, USA Basketball, Player of the Year
In today's Three-Point Play, Eric Bossi relays his conversation with Cole Anthony, explains why he was disappointed at the USA Basketball event and handicaps the national Player of the Year race.
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1. A CONVERSATION WITH COLE ANTHONY
Cole Anthony, the No. 3 ranked prospect, wasn’t able to play at USA Basketball. However, he did travel across the country after taking the SAT on Saturday morning so that he could at least lend some vocal support at the event.
Anthony has taken visits to North Carolina and Notre Dame and he sees Oregon next. He also has Duke, Georgetown, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, Miami, Pittsburgh, Villanova and Wake Forest on his list. I had the opportunity to spend some time speaking to Anthony and here’s what he had to say about his recruitment and what is next.
Bossi: You are down to 12 schools and have taken two visits so far. So let’s discuss those first. How was the visit to Notre Dame?
Anthony: “I loved it there. Coach (Mike) Brey and his staff there really made me feel a part of the family and all of the dudes on the team made me feel a part of their family.”
EB: Was there anything that they did on the visit that was surprising to you?
CA: “There wasn’t really anything surprising. Well, I would actually say that the campus was a lot nicer than I was expecting. It was a really nice trip.”
EB: Next up was a visit to North Carolina, how did that visit go for you?
CA: “The same things, Coach (Roy) Williams and his staff and the players really made me feel part of the family. I thoroughly enjoyed it and it was a good visit.”
EB: Armando Bacot hasn’t made any secret about trying to recruit you to UNC with him. What’s it like to have a good friend like that in your ear?
CA: “It’s awesome, Armando is my boy and it would be awesome to link up and play again. But, at the end of the day if we don’t feel that’s going to be the best situation for myself then I can’t make that move. I’m not saying that my friendship with Armando isn’t important, it is. But we have to look at our priorities.”
EB: Oregon is next, do you have any different approach now that you have a couple of official visits under your belt?
CA: “Not really. I’m just going there to look to compare and contrast all the different aspects of the schools.”
EB: What’s Dana Altman’s pitch been so far?
CA: “They’ve actually done something different. What they did is they laid out a year plan for me. Starting from my graduation day at Oak Hill and through the NBA Draft. So I thought that was really cool and unique.”
EB: The plan has been to take your time with the decision and wait until at least next spring, is that still the plan? What are you thinking in terms of a timeline?
CA: “That’s still the plan. It will probably be sometime in the late spring or something like that but I don’t know yet.”
EB: Finally, do you know which of the other schools on your list you would like to take an official visit to?
CA: “We don’t know yet. Nothing has really been set in stone there so we’ll see.”
2. USA BASKETBALL DISAPPOINTMENT
For the better part of the last 20 years, there haven’t been any events that I look forward to more than USA Basketball. They always feature top end talent, top end instruction, a great evaluation setting and an environment where the kids seem to get that it’s about more than themselves and they give a bit extra because of it.
In that regard, I’m bit disappointed by what I saw at USA Basketball over the weekend. Make no mistake, the mini-camp featured plenty of talent, had lots of bright moments and everybody involved with USA Basketball from coaches to media relations people were top notch. However, it was the first ever USA Basketball event where I got on my flight home and felt a little disappointed by what I had seen and it had nothing to do with talent level.
Pardon me for having a “old man yells at cloud” moment, but I don’t recall a group of players collectively taking any USA Basketball event -- whether it be tryouts or a mini-camp -- less seriously and I surely don’t remember seeing as many players sit out for various reasons (homework, injury, etc.). USA Basketball has always been a business trip of sorts. Go get better. Go compete and go try to set yourself apart as somebody who needs to be involved moving forward. This time around, it seemed like many were there because they were supposed to be and not because they wanted to use it as an opportunity to get better.
I get it -- guys get hurt. Guys may be tired and I’m sure some of the guys sitting out had really given it their best try before calling it a weekend. These are teenagers and I didn’t always have the bigger picture in mind at 17- or 18-years-old. But, I don’t think it’s asking too much for players invited to an event that’s truly a privilege to attend to treat it as such.
That being said, I don’t want to take anything away from the players who did show up and give it their all. Hopefully this was just a blip on the radar and things will be back to business as usual at the next USA Basketball event.
3. PRESEASON PLAYER OF THE YEAR TALK
Last week, I went over my preseason Final Four picks and also threw out a sleeper team that could make some noise before the season ended. This week, I’d like to do the same with my preseason National Player of the Year candidates for the 2018-19 season. Just like last week, I’ll give my four best candidates (in alphabetical order) and one wildcard.
R.J. Barrett, Duke: The No. 1 ranked player in the class of 2018, Barrett has big-time expectations. I don’t like to put too big of expectations on young players, but Barrett’s resume is as impressive as any incoming freshman and if there is an 18-year-old built to carry a title contender and compete for player of the year honors, it’s Barrett.
Carsen Edwards, Purdue: What’s not to like about watching Edwards play? He competes, he scores and lays it all on the line each time. He was super productive on a senior-laden team last year, but in 2018-19 it’s going to be his show to run and I’m looking forward to him taking another big step forward.
Dedric Lawson, Kansas: As always, expectations are high at Kansas and there’s no reason to pick against the Jayhawks winning the Big 12 or being a part of the national title chase. A big part of that will be the play of Lawson, a Memphis transfer. If he’s near as good as Bill Self and his staff have made him out to be over the last year, he could put up huge numbers as a scorer and rebounder.
Caleb Martin, Nevada: Nevada won’t be catching anybody by surprise this season and they have to be considered a Final Four contender. Its best player is Martin and after playing out the end of the 2017-18 season a bit banged up he should be totally healthy. He’ll benefit from tremendous talent around him, he’s got a versatile game and if Nevada lives up to the hype while he puts up numbers, he’ll compete for NPOY.
Wildcard: Shamorie Ponds, St. John’s: Is this the year that St. John’s breaks through under Chris Mullin? The Red Storm have talent and should be able to be a viable Big East team. The play of Ponds will surely have an impact on whether or not they take that next step. Ponds put up huge numbers last season and if he does so again while elevating the play of his teammates, then he and St. John’s could rapidly become a big story.