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Ex-NBA player Greg Anthony’s heralded son, Cole, to make waves in college basketball

‘I think I have become my own player at this point. I hear more, ‘That is Cole Anthony’s dad,’ than, ‘That’s Greg Anthony’s son.’

Update: Cole Anthony has decided to attend University of North Carolina.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Greg Anthony expected to cry tears of joy when he received word his son was induced to be born on May 20, 2000. Then a guard for the Portland Trail Blazers, he took a leave of absence during a playoff series against the Utah Jazz to witness his son’s arrival. But instead, Anthony had tears of concern as it was revealed the umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck.

Now nearly 19 years later, Anthony is a proud papa who gets sentimental watching his highly recruited son, Cole, lead the offense at a Team USA practice during the recent Hoop Summit in Portland.

“It was my first child, so it was emotional,” Greg Anthony told The Undefeated. “We played on a Friday night and I flew home Saturday so he could be born. It was just quite an experience. The umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck, so every time they tried to get him out, his heart rate would drop. So for a while they thought we had to do a C-section.

“It was very scary, but eventually it was able to work out where he could come out naturally. It was an emotional experience. Knock on wood, it all worked out. And now, 18 years later, we are back here in Portland playing for Team USA, so it’s pretty cool.”

Oak Hill Academy Warriors guard Cole Anthony is pictured during the Geico Nationals high school basketball tournament semifinal against the La Lumiere Lakers on April 5 at Christ the King High School in Queens, New York.

John Jones/Icon Sportswire

Anthony’s firstborn has grown into an athletic point guard who can drive, dish, shoot and dunk.

The New York City native is now the No. 2-ranked high school basketball player in the Class of 2019, according to the ESPN 100 list. Anthony averaged a triple-double of 17.8 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists per game as a senior for Oak Hill Academy (Virginia) this season. The 6-foot-3-inch, 185-pound guard led Team USA to a 93-87 victory over the World Team at the Hoop Summit with a team-high 25 points and eight rebounds on April 12. Anthony was also MVP of the McDonald’s All American Game.

While Greg Anthony was working as an NBA analyst for Turner Sports and living in the Miami area, he did his best to make time to see his son play this season.

“It’s a sacrifice, but it’s well worth the sacrifice to explore and experience the things that matter to your kids,” said Greg Anthony, who is married to his second wife, Chere, and has four kids. “It’s great, too, because basketball has been important to me.”

Said Cole Anthony: “No one wants to come to Oak Hill. I honestly told both my mom and my dad, ‘Y’all don’t even have to come to the home games. It’s not even worth it with the location [Mouth of Wilson, Virginia]’. But anytime we had an away game, he managed to get there.”

Being a son of an NBA player would seem to bring a lot of pressure. There have been many who have succeeded, such as two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry and former NBA star Kobe Bryant, as well as many others who have failed to live up to the pressure. Cole Anthony, however, believes he has earned his own reputation as Cole Anthony.

“I think I have become my own player at this point,” he said. “I hear more, ‘That is Cole Anthony’s dad,’ than, ‘That’s Greg Anthony’s son.’ I don’t feel the pressure that much.”

Cole recently said on social media that he plans to announce his college decision April 23. His final four choices are North Carolina, Oregon, Georgetown and Notre Dame. He said he has been “overwhelmed” by college recruitment, but his father has advised him not to “get caught up” in it.

“Cole plays beyond his years,” ESPN college basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla said. “He understands the nuances of the guard position and is equally adept at getting buckets or setting up his teammates. He should have an immediate impact wherever he chooses.”

The description of Cole Anthony’s game sounds very similar to his father’s.

Greg Anthony played at the University of Portland before transferring to Nevada-Las Vegas. It was there that he led the Runnin’ Rebels offense while playing under legendary coach Jerry Tarkanian and alongside future NBA players Larry Johnson and Stacey Augmon. Anthony and the Runnin’ Rebels won a national championship in 1990, defeating Duke by 30 points in the championship game.

The New York Knicks selected Anthony as the 12th overall pick in the first round of the 1991 NBA draft. He earned a reputation as a solid point guard and tough defender for Pat Riley’s Knicks from 1991-95. The 6-foot point guard averaged 7.3 points and 4 rebounds while playing in 757 games for New York, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, Chicago and Milwaukee.

Cole was too young to have seen his dad play in person and hasn’t watched much old footage on YouTube, but he has been told a lot about his father’s game.

“I do know his résumé. I’ve had a few players tell me, ‘Your dad was a dog in college,’ ” Cole Anthony said. “He was pretty good. I know that.”

Greg Anthony initially thought his son had the potential to be a great baseball player. He also wasn’t pressuring his son to play basketball. But in the fifth grade, Cole told his father he had a different sports passion: basketball. Little did Greg Anthony know that his son viewed him as the biggest inspiration in running to basketball.

“I always was in love with basketball, and that was when I fell in love with the sport,” Cole Anthony said. “I really don’t remember what pushed me over the limit, but it probably had something to do with him having played in the NBA. I’ve always had that dream since I was younger.”

Cole Anthony of Oak Hill Academy (left) talks with his father, former NBA player Greg Anthony (right), after Oak Hill’s game against Olive Branch High School during the City Of Palms Classic at Suncoast Credit Union Arena in Fort Myers, Florida, on Dec. 19, 2018.

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Cole said his father has “a lot of knowledge about the game of basketball” and he tries to listen to every word from him to make himself a better player and person. He started believing around the seventh grade that he could grow into a special player and started taking the game seriously. Greg Anthony said his son would often gauge his basketball growth by asking his father “what he did at this grade and that grade.”

Greg Anthony says his son has also embraced his repeated talk about being a leader on the floor, finding joy in not only his own success but also the success of his teammates.

“He doesn’t mind constructive criticism, and he understands where he can get better,” Greg Anthony said. “Part of it is his goal of wanting to be a great player.”

Cole’s confidence as a basketball player grew when he said he beat his dad in one-on-one about five years ago. But his father says he doesn’t remember that, which didn’t surprise his eye-rolling son.

“I was like 13 years old,” Cole Anthony recalled. “We were in our backyard in Florida at his house. We were playing and I beat him. And he got mad. We kept playing, he tweaked his hip and said, ‘We’re going to call it a tie for the second game.’ I’m sure he doesn’t remember. I remember, though.”

Said Greg Anthony: “I’m not playing him anymore. We cut that out.”

Cole Anthony said he isn’t satisfied with his early success, as he says he is “fine-tuning his game and trying to improve his jump shot.” His father is familiar with the NBA dream and possible one-and-done opportunity, but he does not want to “rush the process.” Greg Anthony believes his son has the ability to be a star who can rise higher than he did.

“At this stage, he is a far superior player than I was,” Greg Anthony said. “That is a credit to him.”

Said Cole Anthony: “I don’t want to just follow in his footsteps. I want to go up and beyond that.”

Marc J. Spears is the senior NBA writer for Andscape. He used to be able to dunk on you, but he hasn’t been able to in years and his knees still hurt.