Photo Credit: The Spun
Cole Anthony, the #2 ranked college basketball recruit on the 2019 ESPN 100, recently narrowed his list of schools down to just four: North Carolina, Oregon, Georgetown and Notre Dame. Though North Carolina is regarded as the heavy favorite to land Anthony, there is no evidence that any of the other three schools are out of the running. Anthony is the #1 ranked point guard in the country and is projected to go top five in the vast majority of mock drafts for the 2020 NBA Draft. Anthony’s list isn’t exactly what you would expect for an elite recruit, and seeing Notre Dame as a finalist is even more shocking.
The last #2 recruit on the ESPN 100? Zion Williamson. Cole Anthony isn’t the same generational talent that Zion is, but he is still sure to be an elite player at the college level and beyond. Notre Dame has never had a one-and-done player in the history of its program, and Anthony would almost definitely be the first. Notre Dame also has never had a five-star recruit. In fact, Notre Dame’s highest ranked recruit ever was Demetrius Jackson who came in at #24 in the 2013 ESPN 100. Jackson was also from Mishawaka, IN which is just 10 minutes from Notre Dame’s campus, so there was a major advantage for Notre Dame, to begin within recruiting him. It’s safe to say that landing Anthony would be the biggest recruiting accomplishment for Notre Dame’s program in history by a wide margin, but what exactly would Anthony’s impact be for Notre Dame’s team and program as a whole?
Notre Dame had an abysmal 2018-19 season finishing 14-19 (3-15 in the ACC), but they return their two leading scorers in John Mooney and T.J. Gibbs for their Senior seasons, and also get their locker room leader and best defender Rex Pflueger back for a graduate year coming off of a season in which he only played 10 games before tearing his ACL in a win against Purdue. In addition, Notre Dame just had one of its best recruiting classes ever in 2018 landing four different four-star recruits all in the 2018 ESPN 100. This class included center and #54 ranked recruit Nate Laszewski, two wing players in #80 Dane Goodwin and #85 Robby Carmody, and point guard #98 Prentiss Hubb. Though none of these aforementioned guys are stars, they are all good players who are continuing to develop under Mike Brey and would be a solid supporting cast for Anthony.
Cole Anthony would automatically come in as the star of this team and the focal point of Mike Brey’s offense, and the big question is how far could Anthony take this team? Though Anthony would be by far the best player on the team, Notre Dame would have the advantage of depth with a small drop-off from its second-best player to eighth best player. In my mind, landing Cole Anthony would give Notre Dame a very good chance to return to the NCAA Tournament after missing the Big Dance the last two seasons, but Anthony probably won’t be enough for the Irish to make a run anywhere further than the Sweet Sixteen.
In addition to Anthony’s production on the court, he could potentially boost Notre Dame’s ability to recruit high-level players in the future. Notre Dame consistently relies on developing four-year players, and it would be a nice luxury for the Irish if they could occasionally land a player who can come in and contribute as a freshman, something that is pretty rare for the program.
Rumor has it that Cole Anthony will make his decision sometime around April 20th, and although it is still more likely that he lands somewhere other than in South Bend, the fact that Notre Dame is still in the running for such a major recruit is a pleasant surprise for Irish fans.