Archbishop Molloy High School has produced two of the best points guards to come out of New York in two-time NBA champion Kenny Smith and Kenny Anderson.
The traditional New York high school basketball powerhouse hopes that Cole Anthony, the son of former New York Knicks first-round pick Greg Anthony, would be next in line.
Anthony’s rise started in Molloy, where he starred for three years before transferring to Oak Hill Academy for his senior year. He became the first freshman point guard to start in the school history immediately, and he almost led them to the city championship in his sophomore year.
“He’s a leader. He immediately comes into the room and takes over,” Molloy coach Mike McCleary told Empire Sports Media.
“Even as a freshman, we had a strong seed class, and while he wasn’t the captain of that team, he was still a leader on that team. By the time he’s a sophomore, he was already the captain of the team,” he added.
While Anthony became the most hyped high school player to have come out of New York in recent years, his stock considerably dropped after the North Carolina Tar Heels experienced their first losing season under Roy Williams in 18 years with him as their lead guard.
Anthony missed significant time due to a knee injury, but he was still able to lead the Tar Heels in scoring with 18.5 points per game. However, his inconsistent and inefficient shot-making (38% from the field) and playmaking (4 assists against 3.5 turnovers per game) became a cause of concern.
McCleary believes his former star’s struggles in college is just an aberration.
“One of the things that hurt him this year at North Carolina is that they were not as talented as the previous years. And he was clearly their best player and that left Cole very exposed to try to do too much. But if he has other weapons on his team, I think he’s more than capable of using those weapons and being very successful as a point guard,” McCleary said.
At 6-3, Anthony has some size concerns, but the NBA Playoffs have shown us that small elite guards (6’0 Kemba Walker, 6’1 Donovan Mitchell, 6’2 Damian Lillard, and 6’4 Jamal Murray) have so much value in the league.
“I definitely think that’s gonna be the challenge for him but he’s a great athlete as they all are in the NBA. Size is something that hurts him a little bit but he’s very competitive, a smart kid and I think he’ll pay close attention to the scouting reports to be able to use his intelligence, his skills, and athleticism to be an effective defender,” McCleary said.
He even adds that Anthony would be perfect for the modern NBA due to the fact that “the lane is so wide open now because of the three-point threat and that might offer him more opportunities to get to the rim and open up opportunities for his teammates.”
Anthony, who is modeling his game after Russel Westbrook, according to McCleary, has a quick first step and loves to attack the rim. In fact, Anthony averaged 5.8 free throw attempts in college, which McCleary believes could translate well in the pace-and-space NBA.
However, while it has been reported that the Knicks have extensively scouted Anthony, the team is divided on the polarizing prospect.
Some within the organization is not a fan of Anthony and believe his stock dipped because he was hyped and got exposed in college.
“He’s talented, but he doesn’t have a history of winning,” the source told Empire Sports Media.
But there are also Anthony fans within the organization. Just like Allan Houston, the Knicks’ Special Assistant to the General Manager, who even commented fire emojis to Anthony’s recent beach workout, posted by one of his trainers, Mike Atkinson.
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While Atkinson declined to be interviewed for Anthony’s pre-Draft workout process, he told Empire Sports Media:
“Cole will be a great addition to any organization. I’m confident in that.”
It’s a fact that Anthony hasn’t won a championship in high school and college, but he’s been part of the gold medal team in the 2018 FIBA-U18 Americas, and he was named to the all-tournament team.
During his successful high school run, he’s led Molloy to the Catholic High School Athletic Association finals (though they got upset by the fifth seed team Cardinal Hayes) and semifinals. In his lone year at Oak Hill, the decorated academy that produced Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant, he averaged a triple-double in leading the Warriors to the semifinals of the GEICO High School Nationals. He was named Player of the Year for both his success in basketball and academics, then he collected all the MVP awards in the McDonald’s All-American Game, Jordan Brand Classic, and Nike Hoop Summit and had a Defensive Player of the Year award from Nike’s EYBL.
“He’s a super talent. I think if you put him in the right situation, he can be extremely successful. I think he could be a leader because of his talent and personality and work ethics,” McCleary said.
Anthony’s talent is undeniable, and his fall in the Draft boards could be a boon for the Knicks who are looking for a lead guard. The polarizing prospect could still be available by the time they pick at No.8.
If McCleary has his way, he wants his former star to stay home and get drafted by the Knicks.
“I think he’ll fit well wherever he goes because his father who was in the NBA has always preached to him about being a good teammate, not only about being a good player and what it takes and all that stuff because it’s already a given in his case. But his father has been telling him about being a good basketball player and being a good teammate and to the other people in the team,” McCleary said.
“And I suspect that these are lessons well learned because he responds to his father very well and he has a lot of respect for his father. And I think he’ll be just fine and become a very good lead guard in the next level and hopefully, that’s the case (in New York) so I get to see him more,” he added.