It is hard to have a more impressive college debut than North Carolina freshman Cole Anthony. In the Tar Heels’ season opener against Notre Dame, the former five-star point guard led all scorers with 34 points, chipping in 11 rebounds and five rebounds, to lead the team in all three categories.
Notre Dame mostly hung in with the Heels, but Anthony was the difference. The No. 4 player in the 2019 recruiting class was clearly the best player on the court.
As teams like Duke and Kentucky continue to load up on superstar freshmen, North Carolina has typically gone with a more mixed approach, blending strong young stars with talented veterans. It is hard to see Anthony on campus beyond this year though, based on Game 1, at least.
After the win, Anthony received some extremely folksy praise from Roy Williams, who called him “one tough little nut” after playing 37 of 40 minutes in his debut.
Anthony impressed another major college basketball elder statesman as well: ESPN’s Dick Vitale. The venerated broadcaster called him “special,” and even gave him the designation of “solid gold Diaper Dandy.” There are many Diaper Dandies every year, of course, but not all of them are solid gold.
— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) November 7, 2019
Cole Anthony will have a chance to put up some big numbers over the next few games. UNC travels to UNC-Wilmington, and then hosts Gardner-Webb and Elon before traveling to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.
There, Alabama awaits, followed by a Michigan or Iowa State matchup depending on results. Oregon, Gonzaga, Seton Hall, and Southern Miss are on the other side of the bracket.
On Dec. 4, UNC hosts Ohio State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, and then gets back to ACC play with defending national champion Virginia on Dec. 7. That means plenty of big games ahead for Anthony and the Tar Heels.