A 'one and done' having an attachment to a school may seem rare, but it was a life-long decision for Cole Anthony. Like Marvin Williams, attending North Carolina was for the experience and growth that only a college atmosphere can provide. To most, college is the best time of your life, meeting lifelong friends, moments that are unforgettable and nights that we wish we could, and despite his one year, Anthony made what he calls a '40-year- decision.
Head football coach, Mack Brown, often calls the decision to commit to Carolina a '40-year' decision. The ideology is that this isn't just a place to play for six months and disappear; the commitment to the North Carolina team, coaches, players, and the school will impact you outside of Chapel Hill. It's not just a game; this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Cole Anthony has been making his press rounds as he prepares for the NBA Draft in October. Without hesitation, the questions regarding his time at North Carolina inevitably are asked, but his answers are consistently the same, I love UNC. To some, that may be a shock, why would a high profile player love and appreciate his time at a university during one of their more historical bad seasons. Still, to a kid like Anthony, his short time was a lesson learned on adversity and a commitment to family.
Speaking with The Front Office, a Youtube channel, Anthony first discussed the importance of the brotherhood he formed.
"It's really a big old family there. So that decision... Me coming to their school for the year will affect me for the next 40 years of my life. I'll be a part of that family forever." Anthony states, "I've already gone back once, and I plan to go back several more times to hang out with the coaches and hang out with the players. Just really just embrace that part of my family."
Family. Something that Carolina and Coach Roy Williams cultivated and engraved in the basketball program. It's felt through the unwavering spirit of Dean Smith throughout the Smith Center, and it's written on the walls. In a moving piece by Isaac Schade, a family is,
It is a gift.
The gift of connection.
The gift of being part of something bigger than yourself.
The gift of being forever intertwined and united with other human beings.
And that intertwinement involves fans. Tar Heel fans tend to be larger than life, and rightfully so with the accolades that justify their cause, but last season was a little different and challenging to watch. Let's not hold any punches; even the kids knew it was tough. Anthony called it a learning experience because you don't learn from succeeding, you learn from the mistakes and failures,
"I think it's just a big lesson for everyone that was on this team, even the people who weren't on the team. It spans all of that. So a big learning experience. We were, obviously, we were playing with a lot of injuries this year, unfortunately. Me, myself, I was injured. We had a few other players, more than a few other players that were injured.
So, that was a knock on us, but you can't control those things. There's some things in life you can control, some things you can't. So, at the end of the day, we really didn't get much time to play together as a whole unit, but those are my brothers. Love all those dudes. Any of the call my phone today, I'm picking up with quickness."
Anthony shared what most of us didn't know; he wasn't 100% once he returned to the court. Most analysts have wondered if Anthony's short season with North Carolina hurt his chances. He wasn't knocking down the shots as he did against Notre Dame, dropping 34 points or his return after two months against Boston College, 26 points in 26 minutes, and those glimpses are just half the player fans will see consistently in the NBA.
I would probably say I played about five games, 100% this past year." Cole smiled, "Dude's have no seen me truly play yet, bro. There's a lot of fire, dog, a lot of fire. We've just been working behind closed doors."
Anthony's time in Chapel Hill still allowed the 6' 3", 190-pound freshman to make All-ACC Third-Team and All-ACC Freshmen Team. Anthony averaged 21.1 points and 4.6 assists in the ten games after returning from a right knee injury that sidelined him for 11 games. His career average was 18.5 points and four assists.
As Anthony continues to prepare for life after college, outside of practice, the New York native has been active in his community, holding live conversations with doctors concerning COVID-19 and feeding those in need. His work goes far beyond the basketball court, and that's in addition to what fans of Carolina and his future NBA home can expect of him.
"Look at the end of the day, when I commit to something, I fully commit to something. Those are my brothers. I owe them so much more. The individual goals aside, I was playing for the collective. This is not about the individual. Where would you go? Basketball is a team sport. If you can't realize that, then you playing the wrong sport."
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