Observing Cole Anthony, Patrick Williams, and Devin Vassell

February 3rd, 2020

by Alan Lu

Today, I decided to take the time to watch North Carolina play on the road against Florida State, as this mainly was an opportunity to see Cole Anthony play in a live ACC college basketball game.  Anthony had recently returned from a knee injury, and had played well in his team’s loss to Boston College, a conference opponent that was considered to be significantly worse than Florida State. Therefore, I thought it was time to see how well he would play against a good college basketball team.

Watching Cole Anthony turned out to be akin to being on a high maintenance roller coaster ride, as he had some mesmerizing highs, and some tumultuous lows.  Anthony started off playing well, as he’s a very agile playmaker that showed the ability to make tough shots, but he really started forcing the issue too much, which led to his shooting woes and to some bad turnovers that he committed on offense.   Overall, Anthony didn’t play very well, especially down the stretch, as he went 5 for 22 from the field in his team’s loss to Florida State. The standout performers of this game appeared to be Patrick Williams, Trent Forrest, and RaiQuan Gray. Here are my thoughts on how Anthony and other various players fared in this game, as well as how they may stack up as prospects for the NBA.

North Carolina's freshman point guard, Cole Anthony started off playing well, but he struggled to make shots down the stretch as his team lost to Florida State today.  (Photo: Melina Myers/USA Today Sports, via SB Nation's Tar Heel Blog.)
North Carolina’s freshman point guard, Cole Anthony started off playing well, but he struggled to make shots down the stretch as his team lost to Florida State today. (Photo: Melina Myers/USA Today Sports, via SB Nation’s Tar Heel Blog.)

Cole Anthony had some entertaining moments in his team’s loss to Florida State, as he showed a tendency to make some tough shots from all over the floor as well as get to the free throw line, and he threw plenty of solid passes that went unconverted, but Anthony also struggled to score in traffic especially when he wouldn’t get foul calls, and he had a tendency to over-dribble that would lead him to turn the ball over.

Anthony showed a decent ability to knock down jumpers. He would often hoist up deep threes from well beyond the arc, and he was able to make a step back three early, and he also can make them off the catch and dribble. He also was able to make a quick, pull-up, mid-range jumper in transition. However, Anthony tended to miss too many long-range shots late in this game, as he ended up being quite streaky with his shot against Florida State.

He also flashed an adequate ability to score on aggressive drives to the basket, as he has good foot-speed and ball handling skills, but his questionable shot selection and tendency to force the issue tended to get him into trouble on offense. For the positives, Anthony was able to score on a tough, off-balanced runner when going right to the rim, and he also has a quick spin move that he can use to get past defenders. He would often use his body to jump into defenders to get lots of foul calls, as he would get to the free throw line fairly often. However, he did a poor job of making his free throws, unlike his previous game against Boston College, and Anthony only made 3 of his 8 free throws at the foul line. He also showed a penchant for missing on wild, off-balanced floaters and layups in traffic all too often, and he also had a tendency to get his shots blocked, and his overt tendency to try to go for foul calls would also lead to some bad, off-putting misses in the paint.

Plus, he also displayed decent playmaking skills. Though Anthony looked to score quite often, he tended to throw solid passes in transition, and he does a good job of finding teammates on the move. He will push the ball up the floor, and he is a good passer off the dribble. He will throw timely passes to find teammates on cuts and rolls to set up scores, and he also can find the open man off the dribble to get them opportune chances to score the basketball. However, Anthony also had a tendency to over-dribble into traffic by driving into multiple defenders up the court, which would lead him to get the ball taken away from him by his opponents. He also took too long in his decision-making when the shot clock was running out, and he was unable to get his three-point shot off before the shot clock expired, as he held the ball too long, and it led to a team turnover.

Also, Anthony did a very good job of rebounding the basketball. He would often leap up to get defensive boards, and sometimes he would push the ball up the floor to create transition scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates. He did commit a loose ball foul once when diving for a ball on a defensive rebounding attempt, as he ended up diving into M.J. Walker’s legs and injured him, but his opponent was able to come back later in this game.

Unfortunately, Anthony will need to improve his defense, as he will need to be a more focused player on that side of the ball. For the positives, Anthony is an active help defender that can make solid plays on this end when he is focused and in position. He showed a good ability to draw charges when defending opposing ball handlers, though the officials also seemed to be a bit generous in gifting calls in his favor. On the second charge he drew, he didn’t look to be fully set, as he already seemed to be leaning backwards as if he was already about to flop backwards. Also, Anthony showed a decent ability to contest mid-range shots to force some misses, and he also poked a ball away on a drive to get a steal for his team.

However, he also showed a tendency to go the wrong way when defending screens, as he would be caught ball watching, and he would be caught off-guard on those plays, which would lead his team to commit fouls and allow scores. Sometimes, he would not get back on defense, and he also got beat off the dribble on other occasions. He had a tendency to sag too far off of his man, as that didn’t hurt his team that much as Florida State had trouble consistently making jumpers, but Anthony didn’t seem to make timely rotations, as he would sometimes put himself in bad spots where he wouldn’t be in a good position to contest shots.

In general, Cole Anthony made some entertaining plays in his team’s loss to Florida State, but unfortunately, he missed too many shots, committed some silly turnovers, and had too many defensive breakdowns in this game. Anthony is an interesting prospect, as he may be a high upside sort of player for the next level, but there are also plenty of holes in his game as well. On the bright side, he’s a smooth athlete that has very good handles as he can get to anywhere he wants on the floor, and he can really dominate when he’s making his shots and passes off the dribble. On the other hand, he has a tendency to take too many bad shots as he’ll overtly try to go for foul calls, and he even air-balled a pull-up three after trying to lean in on a failed attempt to draw the foul.   It also doesn’t help his case that his teammates would often miss right after he gets them the ball in prime spots to score. Right now, Anthony may be a polarizing prospect for the 2020 draft, as he has the game that scouts can dream upon, but he is also not a very efficient player and can be quite mistake prone on both ends of the floor. Currently, he may project to go in the mid first round. He’ll need to go to a good team that has a solid system in place, but if things break his way, Anthony could still figure things out to end up being a fairly solid player at the next level similar to Charlotte Hornets’ guard, Terry Rozier in the association.

Florida State's freshman forward, Patrick Williams played very well, as he had a solid all-around game in his team's win over North Carolina.  (Photo: Mike Olivella/The Osceola.)
Florida State’s freshman forward, Patrick Williams played very well, as he had a solid all-around game in his team’s win over North Carolina. (Photo: Mike Olivella/The Osceola.)

Florida State’s freshman forward, Patrick Williams had a solid showing in his team’s win over North Carolina. He made shots in a variety of ways, and he also excelled as a rebounder and defender in this game.

Though Williams didn’t take many shots overall, he was very efficient at making them throughout this contest. He especially excelled as a jump shooter to provide some much need floor spacing for his team on offense. Williams made two corner threes off the catch, and he also used a nice stutter step, hesitation move to score on a pull-up, mid-range jumper. However, he also threw up an airball on another mid-range shot later on.

He also drew many free throws, as he also made all of them when he was at the foul line. After finding himself wide open underneath the basket, he was able to get the pass and got fouled after trying to score on a powerful dunk attempt. Plus, Williams also would get to the line after getting defensive rebounds due to the other team being over the limit.

On the plus side, Williams showed off some passing and ball handling skills at times in this game. However, he was called for basket interference late in this game, as he had tried to score on a tip shot at the rim when pursuing an offensive rebound.

Plus, he also did a great job of rebounding the basketball. Williams would frequently leap up and chase down balls to get defensive boards, and he also was able to bring the ball up the court once.

He also played decent defense in this game. Williams is an athletic, rangy help defender that also showed some ability to guard smaller, quicker ball handlers out on the perimeter. He was able to rotate to block a shot ferociously out of bounds, and he also jumped on a loose ball to get a steal. He also managed to contest a pull-up three to force a miss, and he also poked a ball away out of bounds to nearly force another turnover. Sometimes though, he can be too aggressive when guarding his opponents, which can lead him to commit fouls. Other times, he would sag too far off his man and give up too much space to shooters, which would lead him to allow opponents to score on three-point shots.

In summary, Patrick Williams played well to help his team get the victory over North Carolina. He is an athletic, combo forward that could project to be a 3 and D type of role player in the NBA, and he could end up going in the mid to late first round range on draft day.

Florida State’s sophomore swingman, Devin Vassell started out slowly, as he struggled to make shots early on and didn’t take many of them, but after having a rough start, he played fairly well in the second half, as he was able to make solid plays on both ends of the court. He had an uneven performance overall, but he was able to show that he can make some very athletic plays when he is on the floor.

Vassell did a good job of scoring in transition. He would run the floor to score on high-flying, two-handed dunks on the break, and he also made a quick, pull-up mid-range jumper when driving up the court another time.

However, he was unable to make any of his three-point shots, and he had trouble scoring consistently off the dribble. Vassell missed on a pull-up, long two another time, and he also had his shot blocked on an acrobatic layup off of a drive.

Also, he was quite turnover prone in this game. For the positives, Vassell is an unselfish player that will look to find the open man, and he would kick balls out to shooters to set up scoring chances for them. However, he also would sometimes be inaccurate with his passes, and he also threw one lob pass that sailed out of bounds. He also can sometimes struggle to protect the basketball, as he had a ball taken away from him on a drive that led him to commit another turnover.

Vassell did a very good job of rebounding the basketball. He would often chase down balls to help his team get boards on both ends of the floor, and he also managed to save a ball to a teammate to help his team get an offensive board. He also was able to swoop in to get a defensive board, and then pushed the ball up the floor off of that afterwards. He did commit an over the back foul when going for a rebound once, but generally he rebounded well due to possessing very good athleticism, motor, and instincts to do so.

He also played decent defense. Vassell would block shots off of drives to teammates, as he has good leaping ability, instincts, and timing to swat numerous shots. However, he also was called for a reach-in foul when rotating on a drive due to over-aggressiveness. Though he tended to be late to rotate to shooters, his opponents did not do a good job of making jump shots, so that didn’t hurt him in this game.

Overall, Devin Vassell had his ups and downs, and while he didn’t have his best game, he played better as the contest wore on. He excelled as a scorer in transition, and was able to get key defensive stops down the stretch. Right now, Vassell will need to improve his ability to create his own shot and be a more consistent player in games, but even still, he could be a solid pick for an NBA team in the late first round as an energetic role player at the next level.

Other Notes:

Florida State’s 6-4 senior point guard, Trent Forrest had a fairly good game in his team’s win over North Carolina. He excelled at scoring on strong drives to the hoop, and he also defended very well. He was able to block a couple of shots off the dribble due to possessing good athleticism, leaping ability, and recovery speed, and he also poked a couple of balls out of bounds to nearly get steals.

Plus, he also made an open, spot-up three off the catch. He did struggle with some turnovers, as he threw a couple of passes away and also was called for a charging foul, though. Overall, Forrest had a solid all-around game to help his team get the victory, and he may be a borderline second round candidate that may have the skills to make an NBA team’s roster next season.

North Carolina’s 6-3 senior guard, Christian Keeling excelled at scoring on hustle plays, as he would frequently score on backdoor cuts from the baseline, and he also used a Euro-step to score on a fast break drive. Though he struggled to consistently knock down jumpers, he was able to make a couple of outside shots, especially one late in the game from beyond the arc.

He also played good defense. Keeling was able to block a mid-range shot, and he also poked a ball away to get a steal. Overall, Keeling is an athletic combo guard that can attack the basket to garner scores and is an active help defender. While he may have to show that he can effectively run the point at the next level, he is an athletic, skilled player that could end up making an NBA team’s summer league roster later this year.

North Carolina’s 6-8 sophomore swingman, Leaky Black had some good moments in his team’s loss to Florida State, as he played well down the stretch to keep his team in the game. He excelled at scoring on hustle plays, as he scored on a cut, on a give and go in transition, as well as on a tip-in. He also pulled up to make an elbow jumper, but he struggled to score off the dribble or on jumpers in general.

Black also passed the ball well. He showed a good ability to find shooters and cutters to notch assists, and he also handled the ball well. However, he was also called for a push off that led him to simultaneously commit an offensive foul and a turnover on a drive to the basket.

He also rebounded and defended well. Black was active at crashing the glass to get defensive boards, and he would play passing lanes to get steals and deflections. He also was able to contest a mid-range shot to force a miss, and he also helped break up a lob pass that helped his team get a steal early in this match. However, sometimes he had trouble defending opponents off the dribble, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.

Overall, Leaky Black is an athletic, skilled swingman that can score on hustle plays, facilitate, and defend when he is on the court. He will need to improve his jump shot and ability to create his own shot off the dribble. Still, he is a versatile player that can help his team in numerous ways, and he could be a second round prospect for the 2021 draft.

Florida State’s 6-9 sophomore forward, Malik Osborne showed off versatile scoring skills, as he made a spot-up three, scored on a reverse layup off of a drive, and also used a pump fake to score on a put back while getting an extra free throw. He also set a good off-ball screen that helped a teammate score on a drive to the basket.

Osborne is an athletic, physical player that can score the basketball in a variety of ways, and he excelled at doing so despite getting limited touches on offense. He’ll likely need to stay in school to polish up his overall game, but if he gets an expanded role later in his collegiate career, he could end up being a second round pick in the 2021 draft.

Florida State’s 6-8, redshirt sophomore forward, RaiQuan Gray played very well in his team’s win over North Carolina. He did a good job of scoring on strong drives to the basket, and he also excelled at finishing plays around the basket. He was able to throw a long inbounds pass to find a teammate down court late in this game, and he also set a good off-ball screen that helped enable a teammate to score on a drive to the rim.

Gray also defended well, as he would block shots to help his team protect the paint, and he also was able to intercept a pass and poke a ball away to get steals for his team. Overall, Gray is a tough, physical player that defends well, and he is an active help defender that can help his team get plenty of stops on that side of the ball. He will need to improve his jump shot and ball handling ability, but he has been a solid role player for his team in college, and he could be a potential second round pick in the 2021 draft.