Phenom Hoop Report got a first-hand glimpse of how special point guard Cole Anthony was when he played at Oak Hill. Time and time again, he put on a show for fans, especially at our Phenom Hoops’ events last year.
Now, we got a chance to have a treat and check out Cole Anthony’s first collegiate game at North Carolina and he showed why he is predicted by many as one, if not the top pick in the upcoming NBA Draft.
North Carolina started out slow and struggled offensively, while Notre Dame’s guards played really well but, in the end, the Tar Heels started to find their rhythm to help secure a 76-65 victory.
Let’s take a look at a few takeaways for both programs from the early-season ACC matchup.
As the title says, Cole Anthony is going to be special
Some would say that Anthony started “slow” but he nearly had a double-double in the first half. He picked his spots and get a good feel for the game and rhythm of the game, as well as getting others involved. However, in the second half, many people saw just what Anthony is able to do… Take over a game and that he did. Scoring 23 points in the second half and finishing with a stat line that read 34 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 assists, Anthony made his mark on college basketball from the start. He finished 12-for-24 from the floor and 6-for-11 from three, while also leading the team in rebounding and tied for assists, Anthony was nothing but special. It will be hard to replicate that stat line consistently but he showed from the start that he has the tools to be one of the top prospects in the country.
Watch out for Notre Dame’s duo of Prentiss Hubb and TJ Gibbs this year
Both Hubb and Gibbs had solid years last year but they showed early on that both may have taken a step in their development. Both played 36+ minutes vs. the Tar Heels and the duo was trouble all night long. The tandem knocked in all nine of the team’s 3-pointers, going 9-for-15 from three. Not to mentioned, they racked up 10 assists and finished with 41 of the 65 points for the Irish. Now, players like John Mooney, Rex Pflueger, and others will need to step up as well in games but this tandem could be a duo to watch nationally for the Irish.
Team rebounding a slight concern to start the season for Heels but after Game 1, it may not be
It was going to be interesting to see how this team would be rebounding wise, especially after they have been dominant for so long on the boards. They had a few young players and new names, would they buy in? North Carolina held a 51-31 rebounding edge vs. the Irish, including 14 offensive rebounds and it was a full team effort. Anthony led the way with 11, but Garrison Brooks finished with 9, Armando Bacot had 8, Leaky Black with 7, and Justin Pierce had 7 (just to name a few). This team may be more of a collective rebounding group but people should feel pretty good after Game 1.
How will Rex Pflueger bounce back this year?
It was tough for Notre Dame to lose Pflueger after 10 games last year. He brings a high-IQ to the court as well as experience. He can also defend as well for the Irish. However, in his first return back to the court after last year (averaged 8 points per game last two seasons), he struggled to find consistency on the floor, going 0-3 and scoring one point in 22 minutes for the Irish. Granted, it was his first game back and going up against a tough team, so there is a TON of time for him to bounce back. However, it will be interesting to monitor what impact he makes this year, a season the Irish will need him in many areas.
Second guard option for the Tar Heels
Cole Anthony is No. 1 for North Carolina, which is easy to see. They will also use their size down low with Brooks, Bacot, and others as well, that is for sure. But who becomes that second consistent scoring threat from outside for the Tar Heels?
Christian Keeling got the start and looked like he forced a little too much at times, ending the night with five points but also five turnovers. Leaky Black will be critical for this team as well but he also looked a little nervous and skeptical with his game, going 2-for-7 from the floor (did end with 5 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists). Andrew Platek played well off the bench and Justin Pierce looks to still be learning how he can impact the game in this style of play. Now, they are still missing Brandon Robinson, Anthon Harris, and Jeremiah Francis, so there are more options that could return and take that role over. However, after the first game, it will be interesting to see who gets more of the green light in this offense for the Heels as a consistent scoring threat and taking a little bit of the load off Anthony.