Virginia Tech’s loss is North Carolina’s gain. On Tuesday night, 2019 combo guard Anthony Harris committed to play basketball at UNC. Harris originally committed to Virginia Tech, but changed his mind after head coach Buzz Williams fled the hills of Blacksburg for Texas A&M. Roy Williams swooped in quick and got him on campus just three weeks after he re-opened his recruitment.
The 6-3, 180-pound guard fills an immediate and long-term need for the Heels. He announced his recruitment via Twitter. Harris is the second “Anthony” to join the Heels today. Cole Anthony announced his commitment to North Carolina this morning.
Despite tearing his ACL in December, Harris is still a consensus top-75 player. That’s arguably a sweet spot that indicates a recruit can potentially contribute right away, but is still probably 2-4 years away from being on the NBA’s radar. With so many openings on next year’s squad, Harris will certainly have the opportunity to earn early minutes. He is expected to be make a medically cleared before the season starts.
Depending on your preferred recruiting service, Harris is either a “combo” guard or a point guard. He gives UNC some flexibility on how to use him in the coming years, but his college position is unknown. We gave a brief explanation of what that could look like last week, when we previewed his official visit. Here’s a quick look at some highlights from high school.
When he committed to Virginia Tech, the Washington Post talked to his high school coach Glenn Farello and AAU coaches Keith Stevens and Doug Martin. They had some high praise for the then-rising senior.
Martin, Team Takeover’s assistant coach said, “I think Ant is one of the best two-way players in the country. I think he epitomizes what a combo guard is. I think if he does have a basketball in his hand or without, he does a great job of helping his teammates as well.”
Though his senior year was cut short, he was teammates with UNC signee Armando Bacot on last year’s AAU circuit. Playing with Team Takeover, Harris “only” averaged 8.6 points per game, but for context the team’s leading scorer only averaged 12.0 ppg. Bacot put up 10.5 ppg. AAU, like recruiting, is weird. The important numbers are how he scored. (Note: All stats courtesy of D1 Circuit. They can be found here.)
In 22 summer games, Harris shot 47.8% (44-92) from two, 43.8% (21-48) from three, and 82% (32-39) from the line. That diverse shot chart and an ability to create his own shot will be a welcome addition to Chapel Hill. Those attributes at the shooting guard position have largely been missing in UNC’s offense since Marcus Paige’s senior season. A tough, aggressive motor and an improving outside shot make him a viable long-term contributor at the college level. Enjoy these highlights from last year’s Peach Jam.
In those same AAU games, he averaged 2.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.0 turnover per game. An A:T of 2.5 is nothing to sneeze at. Certainly not a pass-first prospect, he could develop into a lead guard in UNC’s system or serve as a secondary ballhandler. With so much uncertainty around the position after Cole Anthony and Seventh Woods depart next spring, all options should be considered. Harris provides some flexibility going forward.
However, what will really make Harris stand out are his defensive abilities. That all-around game was his calling hard in high school. His high school coach Glenn Farello was quoted saying in that same Washington Post article,
“I like to call him a complete guard. He will be a playmaker. He will be able to score. I think he’s one of the best defenders we have here at PVI. He brings toughness. He’s a winner.”
It should be noted, that yes, Team Takeover ran the table in the Nike EYBL “regular” season and won the prestigious Peach Jam last summer. Maybe Farello is onto something with the “winner” label. Not to mention both Martin and Farello talked about Harris’ two-way and defensive abilities. High school kids don’t usually receive that kind of praise.
Leaky Black, Andrew Platek, and Brandon Robinson are UNC’s only returning wings for next season. As long as Harris doesn’t suffer a setback in his ACL recovery, he’ll have opportunities to see the court early in his career. Whether or not he’ll physically be able to maximize those opportunities is a valid question. Real expectations for next season also won’t be reasonably known until North Carolina gets final word on their remaining prospects.
Harris is UNC’s fourth commit for the 2019 season, and his announcement comes hours after completing an official visit. He joins point guards Jeremiah Francis and Cole Anthony and center Armando Bacot. North Carolina is still trying to finalize it’s class with graduate transfers Justin Pierce (SF), Christian Keeling (SG), and/or McDonald’s All-American Precious Achiuwa.