UNC Basketball: Early look at Cole Anthony’s 2020 NBA Draft stock

Incoming freshman point guard Cole Anthony has yet to appear in a game for UNC, but that’s not stopping draft evaluators from putting him at the top of a number of NBA mock drafts — and for good reason.

The 2019-2020 college basketball season is still over two months away, but it’s never too early to look at how things could pan out, especially when it comes to the premier talent on this year’s talented Tar Heels’ squad.

Particularly, the future of Cole Anthony, the five-star prospect and heralded scoring guard out of Oak Hill who’s set to make major waves in the college scene immediately as a member of a UNC squad that’s fully-loaded and ready to compete once again for postseason glory.

Athletic and flashy, the 6-foot-3 Anthony makes highlight plays a routine aspect of his game, with jaw-dropping dunks and dazzling ball-handling blowing up social media and garnering immense hype.

With the hype comes expectations. Can the 19-year-old back it up with an impressive freshman campaign with the Heels? Can he put up gaudy stats while leading his team to meaningful success? Is there more to his game than the highlights?

Well, yes.

And if mock drafts are to be any indicator, we’re not the only ones who believe in the guard’s NBA-caliber talents translating on the college hardwood and beyond:

According to HoopsHype’s aggregate draft board, which accumulates mocks created by some of the top writers in the country, Cole Anthony comes right in at No. 2, just behind Georgia freshman and 6-foot-5 tank Anthony Edwards.

It’s perhaps too early to make any firm declarations, but we’ll hedge our bets and say that Anthony has a pretty compelling case to be this year’s top pick already with his package of downhill driving, insanely functional athleticism (in terms of speed, vertical, and strength), pull-up scoring, and perimeter shooting. He’s not a perfect playmaker or defender, but the scoring talent is genuinely special for an NBA prospect such as Anthony.

He’s racked up accolade after accolade, too, dominating every level that he’s played in 2018 and 2019: He won a gold medal with Team USA at the 2018 FIBA U18 Americas and earned a spot on the tournament’s All-Star team (14.3 PPG, 4.2 APG), tore apart the Nike EYBL circuit with the PSA Cardinals and captured the regular season MVP (26.9 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 3.5 APG), led the USA team to a victory at the Nike Hoop Summit (25 points, eight rebounds), and won MVP honors at both the McDonald’s All-American game (14 points, four rebounds, seven assists) and Jordan Brand Classic (25 points, six rebounds, six assists).

He’s a menace offensively and an overwhelming force wherever he plays, and he’s in a perfect spot to flourish as a college point guard as a member of the guard-friendly North Carolina Tar Heels.

Roy Williams’ teams are famous for their talented lead guards, and Cole Anthony is set to be the next great guard to grace the Carolina blue hardwood — and then, perhaps, grace the NBA hardwood as the 2020 NBA Draft’s No. 1 pick.

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