As many of you probably know by now, five-star combo guard Cole Anthony was on campus this past weekend with fellow classmate and UNC verbal commit Armando Bacot. The joint official visit was likely orchestrated by Bacot himself, who has been recruiting Anthony heavily ever since he himself announced his commitment almost two months ago.
The interesting thing is that following his visit, we still don’t really know anything, but we do know that the trip at least went well. There was enough going on this weekend that gave both players an idea of what would be in store at UNC, and they even had the pleasure of getting to attend a well-timed NBA preseason game at the Smith Center. Quick note about that game: Jayson Tatum and Kyrie Irving still haven’t won in the Smith Center. Kyrie didn’t even get to play there in a Duke uniform, no, but it seems as though the Basketball Gods wanted him to have the experience of a loss in the Smith Center anyway.
So what is the update on Cole Anthony’s visit and where he stands with UNC? Let’s take a look at what we were able to gather from this past weekend.
The Social Media Posts
When looking into what events transpired this past weekend, we have to start with what took place on Twitter and Instagram.
Armando Bacot and Cole Anthony took part in a photo shoot sporting Carolina jerseys. This is very much not a new thing that happens during official visits, but there was two things significant about this particular instance — Bacot and Anthony took some photos together, and perhaps the biggest point of intrigue was the end result of one of the photos itself:
Cole x Mondo = ? ‼️ pic.twitter.com/HHbEjQncmj— Armando Bacot Jr. (@iget_buckets35) September 30, 2018
It is very clear that UNC is making sure that Anthony realizes that he isn’t just being recruited to fill a roster spot for Roy Williams, but he is being recruited to team up with another top recruit in the country with the intent of both of them being very important pieces in 2019. Marketing them both as a package deal to Anthony is a smart idea, as there is a lot of uncertainty in regards to what Anthony would actually have if he committed to other schools this early in the process. Granted, this can and will change (I’m looking at you, Duke), but it’s better to implant the idea earlier than later.
So, how did Anthony react to Bacot’s tweet? Well...
Talk to me Mando https://t.co/vsmMvcTeGJ— Cole Anthony (@The_ColeAnthony) September 30, 2018
To give you an idea of how close-lipped he has been, this is maybe the biggest tip of the cap that Anthony has given about any part of his recruitment to this point. Obviously his tweet doesn’t give any real indication of what he’s thinking, however, if you were to take anything away from this it should be that Anthony is at least interested in the idea of teaming up with Bacot. A win is a win until you can win it all, and so UNC fans can think of this as beating a non-conference opponent by three for the time being.
What They’re Saying
Rivals Recruiting Analyst Corey Evans released a “Twitter Tuesday” article yesterday discussing a few of the nation’s top recruits. In the article, Evans gave a brief rundown of Cole Anthony’s visit to Chapel Hill:
“North Carolina was one of the favorites for Cole Anthony heading into his trip to Chapel Hill and that still remains the case as the Tar Heels offer him the chance to take over the lead guard spot from the get-go, become the face of the program and have the opportunity to be coached by a Hall of Famer. It didn’t hurt that Armando Bacot, UNC’s top 2019 pledge, joined Anthony during his official visit over the weekend.”
Later in the article, Evans discusses the other favorites to land Anthony, and the list isn’t quite what you’d expect. Notre Dame seems to be one of the other favorites, and is the first school that he has taken an official visit to this academic year. The third school that he will be taking an official visit to is Oregon, with that visit scheduled for October 12th. They will also host Isaac Johnson, Marcus Watson, and Jahmius Ramsey at the same time, and so it seems as though the Ducks are taking a less intimate approach than UNC did.
Now, here’s where things get interesting: Rivals’ FutureCast gives UNC a 100% chance to land Anthony, which is a stark contrast from 247’s Crystal Ball. However, the Crystal Ball did update yesterday afternoon, and they now give UNC and Duke a 40% chance each to win the recruiting battle. With both sites both leaning towards UNC, it’s going to be really interesting to see if this maintains during and after Anthony finishes up with his official visits.
Prior to last month, I was apprehensive about putting too much stock into the chance of Cole Anthony committing to UNC. The main reason is that Duke and Kentucky have had an excellent track record of letting Roy Williams have hope, only to take everything away from him. This situation still screams the same thing to me, although I would say that the screaming is a bit quieter than normal. Duke is struggling in their recruiting right now for the 2019 class, which means one of two things; either they’re going to get a commitment from Cole Anthony, in addition to Vernon Carey and/or Wendell Moore, or this will be the first time in a long time where they get a good class, but not a great one. Time will tell, but I never can be sold too much on a recruit with them involved.
With that said, I think that despite the little information that is out there, the Heels have a legitimate shot at landing their second top-five recruit in the past two years. The combination of Armando Bacot and Roy Williams applying pressure, with the added incentive of potentially rejoining former teammate Coby White is one that I’d imagine is tempting for a player like Cole. I also think that UNC’s play-style caters to him quite a bit, and so that aspect of his recruitment is very much not a concern. Finally, the one thing that stands out the most is that he mentioned going to the Final Four and potentially winning the national championship being the priority for whichever school he chooses. Interpret that in whatever manner you feel is appropriate.
In short, this isn’t an Armando Bacot situation at this current date and time. Bacot felt like a sure thing as we got closer to his decision, and we just aren’t there yet. However, this also doesn’t feel like the Zion Williamson situation reincarnated where I was more hopeful than convinced that it was actually going to happen. Splitting the difference of those two scenarios, I think when it’s all said and done it will be between UNC and (insert school here). Hopefully Roy Williams will find a way to come out on top.