Going into Tuesday morning at about 7 am eastern time, the 2019 class for Carolina basketball left much to be desired. Sure, they were able to get a commitment from Jeremiah Francis, who had shown that he was on his way up the ranks before suffering some brutal injuries that has kept him out of action for two years. Also, yes, the Heels were able to lock down five-star center Armando Bacot, who should be a strong addition to Roy Williams’ group of big men, and may even be able to help return the team to traditional Roy Williams-style offense. However, thanks to the mass exodus of seniors and OAD freshmen, the Heels needed more. How much more? Well, let’s just say yesterday was a big step in the right direction.
Yesterday morning on ESPN’s show “Get Up”, five-star combo guard Cole Anthony committed to the University of North Carolina. Anthony said after making his announcement that the reason his announcement kept getting pushed back is because he wanted to make sure he went through the process and made a sound decision, but at the end of the day, he kept coming right back to Carolina as his target destination.
Following the announcement, analysts were thorough and plentiful in their praise of Carolina’s ability to land Anthony, and expressed a great deal of excitement about what kind of player he could be at the college level. To begin taking a look at what everyone had to say, let’s first start with the most satisfying knowledge bomb that was tweeted by ESPN’s Bryan Ives:
Cole Anthony’s commitment to North Carolina means the highest ranked prospect in the ACC will not play at Duke for the first time since 2011-12.— Bryan Ives (@awaytoworthy) April 23, 2019
247 Sports’ Evan Daniels was the lead recruiting expert for Anthony, and had predicted that he would commit to UNC for quite some time now. Once the announcement was made, Daniels made this short video discussing the decision, and what Anthony would bring to the table for the Heels:
What will Cole Anthony bring to North Carolina? Here’s my take on the No. 3 overall prospect committing to the Tar Heels. pic.twitter.com/00d3KQs4A0— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) April 23, 2019
ESPN First Take host Stephen A. Smith got to work with Cole Anthony’s dad Greg Anthony when he was employed at ESPN. After the announcement was made, Smith not only had praise for his former co-worker’s son, but he also had praise for his beloved college basketball team (with some shade thrown at the team in Durham as well):
“First of all, I want to say I’m ecstatic that he chose North Carolina instead of Duke because I don’t want to see Duke getting everybody and all of a sudden, North Carolina’s got a few no-names that we don’t find out about until the season is played or the NCAA Tournament,” Smith said. “ I love the fact that North Carolina and Roy Williams has somebody of this magnitude.”
“Not only is this kid a point guard, not only is this kid special, let’s keep in mind who his daddy is,” Smith said. “His daddy is a former colleague here at ESPN who does an outstanding job on TNT and NBA TV as well, Greg Anthony. This kid is going to be special. His father isn’t going to miss a beat. The man knows basketball. You best believe his son does, too. I’m looking forward to seeing North Carolina. … I expect big things.”
While it is always a joy to hear national analysts praise the Tar Heels, nobody’s opinion matters more than that of head coach Roy Williams:
“We’re thrilled with Cole’s decision to attend North Carolina,” Roy Williams said on Tuesday. “He is one of the most complete point guards I have ever recruited. He has all the physical skills, but he has a competitiveness, a toughness and a savvy that I really like. I first saw him as a ninth-grader and since then he has gotten better and better and I know he will continue to improve. He comes from a great family. His parents are very involved in his life and are fantastic people. We couldn’t be happier that Cole and his family are joining our Carolina Basketball family.”
While Cole Anthony’s commitment would’ve been more than enough to satisfy Tar Heel fans for the next 24 hours, things got really interesting later in the afternoon, when four-star guard Anthony Harris hopped on Twitter to make a very important announcement:
The timing of Harris’ announcement made it very easy to wonder if Anthony’s decision may have swayed him to follow suit in committing to the Heels, and as fate would have it, that’s exactly how things played out:
Harris’ unexpected announcement turned an exciting day in Chapel Hill into what was maybe the most memorable recruiting day the Heels have had in years. In fact, according to Evan Daniels, it was the biggest day for the Heels since Harrison Barnes committed back in 2009.
North Carolina’s recruiting class now moves to No. 6 in the @247Sports Team Rankings with the addition of Anthony Harris to Cole Anthony, Armando Bacot & Jeremiah Francis.— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) April 23, 2019
Rivals’ Clint Jackson gave his thoughts on Harris’ commitment in an article for Tar Heel Illustrated, and broke down why he believes that Harris is actually a better player than his ranking indicates:
“Such a quality addition for the UNC class this late in the game. I’m higher on Harris than his national ranking and have seen him about a dozen times whether its with his high school team or in AAU.
“His toughness jumps off the page. He’s physically strong and mentally stable. He doesn’t jack up bad shots and plays a very efficient game. He can play fast and he can play the structured half-court game. And defensively, he’s strong, smart and doesn’t gamble.
“I think this is a kid who has the potential to start at North Carolina pretty quickly and it’s because there is a lot of playing time available. But also because he does a lot of things that Roy Williams appreciates, such as defend, play smart, rebound and not turn the ball over.”
Toughness seems to be the common theme when looking at what everyone is saying about Harris as a player. Roy Williams doubled down on that fact when the school announced his commitment:
“Anthony’s a remarkable young man,” says UNC head coach Roy Williams. “I love his toughness and competitiveness. A team can never have enough of these qualities. We are very fortunate to have a player of his caliber join our program. His parents (Anthony Sr. and Meecsha Harris) have done a great job raising him and Coach Farello has done a tremendous job coaching him at Paul VI. He’s a great addition to our program.”
As for the Tar Heels fans across the nation, let’s just say that the level of excitement of everything that happened yesterday was at a rather high level.
YESSSS COLE ANTHONY is a TAR HEEL LETS GOOOO!!!! We ready for the season to do big things ! GO HEELSSSSS #GoHeels— Bryon D (@bhaywood4life) April 24, 2019
I love you @The_ColeAnthony. You definitely made my day— Tom Dougherty (@tomdougherty74) April 24, 2019
Can't remember a better recent recruiting year than this one for UNC. #2 Cole Anthony, #17 Armando Bacot, and #75 Anthony Harris. Wish a couple guys didn't prematurely enter the draft, but either way I'm excited for next season. https://t.co/6H9NsbSUD7— JARED AYERS (@yersjared) April 23, 2019
Needless to say, yesterday was a great day to be a Tar Heel. Cole Anthony, Anthony Harris, welcome to the Carolina family.