Team: North Carolina
Age: 19 (Turns 20 in May 2020)
Weight: 190 lbs
It’s evident he’s very talented. His handles are one of his bigger strengths and he knows how to keep his dribble alive. He is comfortable using either hand and can break his man down. He has a lot of tools a scorer needs to have. Anthony’s very confident in himself and showed the potential of becoming a 3 level scorer. Driving is his biggest strength now among the 3 areas. Anthony can get up and will play through contact. He also finishes well with both hands for a 19-year-old. Anthony can also get a floater off, or go all the way in among the trees. His jump shot has potential. He is very confident in it and can get hot in bunches. When he is playing at his own pace, it is very hard for a defense to make him uncomfortable. Because of this, he can make really difficult shots look easy for them. Also, his mechanics aren’t affected by whether his shot is coming off the catch or dribble. Despite many All-Americans, Anthony has a relentless motor and plays hard all the time which is rare to see from someone so talented. He is similar to Russell Westbrook in that way. He does everything 100%, which you have to respect. Cole even carries that energy to the defensive end of the floor and makes himself willing more often than most. He will even rotate onto drivers and take charges and give up his body. Another thing to know is that he improved at rotating defensively after his injury in understanding the proper rotations to make. He was trying to improve his knowledge of the game while he was injured which is encouraging. Also, Anthony is a great rebounding guard. His 40+ in. vertical along with instincts and effort could potentially help his team be more willing to play small ball because Cole can clean the glass. To add on, according to every announcer, teammate, or coach, he has a lot of positive qualities. Cole is considered a good teammate and person among those around him. He has a great work ethic and has the determination you want to see in a prospect.
One of the biggest flaws in his game is passing. His vision has improved since the start of the year but is still a work in progress. Anthony would also benefit by improving on consistently having good ball-placement on his passes. Cole’s biggest issue that he hasn’t improved on is his ability to pass people open. He doesn’t create opportunities for teammates. His 4 APG to 3.5 TPG isn’t great. Part of this is also because he over dribbles frequently. In his defense, he hasn’t had a ton of help at UNC, but he still tries to do too much too often. While Cole can hit tough shots, he’s not always taking smart shots. He can get sped up at times which doesn’t help either. Overall though, he needs to raise his shot IQ to become an efficient scorer. Anthony plays hard all the time, but it can be to a fault and leads to playing undisciplined. On defense, he needs to improve on a lot of fundamentals. He’s not great at staying in front of his man. He needs to learn to beat his opponent to the spot defensively. At the beginning of the year, he was obsessed with collapsing to the paint and would leave shooters wide-open. Now, he improved a lot in that area after his injury, but it’s important to be aware that was a really bad habit for him. The only question physically is his size at 6’3 depending on what position he plays. While Anthony doesn’t have an official wingspan listed, it is around 6’5 I believe. Cole can switch on occasion largely due to his physicality. Another thing to remember is that he suffered a bad knee injury in the middle of the year. While he seems to have recovered fully from it, it is still concerning to see a 6’3 guard with a physical playstyle get a knee injury.
There are serious concerns with Cole Anthony and how he runs an offense. Maybe part of this was because he didn’t have a lot of talent around him, but he did not create for teammates. He did not pass teammates open. He was not a true point guard. With how experienced he is as a basketball player with all his AAU teams and camps he’s most likely attended, these aren’t qualities he’s going to improve drastically on. Cole is just not wired like that. While he’s fairly ball dominant, that is something he can improve on. It is evident how talented he is and the 3 level scoring potential he poses. Cole’s jump shot is pretty clean. It’s fairly consistent. It can definitely improve, but he has a good foundation. He will have to raise his IQ in many areas of his game to live up to that potential. Putting him as an off guard would allow him to focus on scoring, secondary playmaking, and hustle. He would benefit greatly by playing alongside a true playmaker. In the right situation, Cole could be a solid player on a good team. If he has the determination that coaches rave about, he can be the number 2 scoring option down the road. Defensively is where he will be tested and it is hard to predict. He’s got to get coached up and be committed as an on-ball defender. He isn’t a bad help-side defender and has a toughness to him that many NBA players don’t have. He also stopped attacking the glass after his injury, which is a huge mistake. Cole can come into the NBA and be one of the top rebounding guards right out of the gates with his verticality and toughness. Cole Anthony is a talented prospect, but he needs the correct situation to live up to being the player he can become. The overall outlook is that the team that drafts him should not try to change his game. Let him be the player he’s meant to be and he can thrive. There is also risk as there hasn’t been a player quite like Anthony so there is uncertainty as to how he will play at the NBA level.
Article Written by Bradley Patten
Stats found on Basketball-Reference (https://www.sports-reference.com/cbb/players/cole-anthony-1.html)
Photo Credit to Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images (https://sports.yahoo.com/cole-anthony-unc-knee-injury-nba-draft-034810669.html)