Who is Cole Anthony? Freshman Did Something at UNC That Even Jordan Couldn't Do

It's not unusual for freshmen basketball players to start for major programs and do exceedingly well in this day and age. But what a teenager accomplished during his first game for the Tar Heels at the University of North Carolina is mind-boggling.

Cole Anthony, a freshman making his collegiate debut Wednesday night for North Carolina, set school and conference records when UNC beat Notre Dame, 76-65.

Anthony scored 34 points in a freshman debut for North Carolina, setting a record at a school of who's who among hoops players. It also set a record for a freshman in the Atlantic Coast Conference, perhaps the best basketball conference in history.

Anthony scored 34 points in just 37 minutes, and he added 11 rebounds and five assists in the effort.

He was born of basketball greatness. His father, Greg Anthony, was a member of the 1990 UNLV national championship team and an 11-year NBA star. Greg Anthony still holds the career record for both steals and assists at UNLV, where he played under legendary coach Jerry Tarkanian.

Cole played high school ball at Archbishop Molloy High before moving to Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Virginia, for his senior year. He was a first-team All-American, the Virginia Gatorade Player of the Year and McDonald's All-American Game MVP his senior year.

During Wednesday's debut against the Fighting Irish, Anthony knocked down 12-of-24 shots, including 6-of-11 from beyond the 3-point arc, and drained 4-of-5 free throws. All 11 of his rebounds came on the defensive end and he led all scorers.

His 34 points broke a 17-year-old school record held by Rashad McCants—who scored 28 points against Penn State in 2002. But Anthony wasn't worried about any records hit on Wednesday.

"It's cool, I'm going to—not celebrate, but be happy about it a little bit tonight, give myself a little pat on the back," Anthony said in this ESPN report. "But we've got practice tomorrow. We've got to lock back in. We've got a game on Friday."

North Carolina will play at UNC-Wilmington on Friday, when they will face former UNC assistant coach C.B. McGrath, who coaches UNCW.

Anthony, who typically wear eyeglasses, wore some prescription goggles to start the game on Wednesday. When he ditched the goggles, his game rose to a record-breaking level.

"When I took those off, something clicked," Anthony told reporters.

Anthony's debut certainly could propel him into a stratosphere of great ACC and UNC basketball players of all-time. In this day and age, many of the great players never stay in college more than one season. However, none did it like Anthony on opening night.

For a reference, here's a handful of ACC greats who never achieved what Anthony did on the first games of their careers.

Michael Jordan — UNC

David Thompson — North Carolina State

Ralph Sampson — Virginia

Tyler Hansbrough — UNC

James Worthy — UNC

Tim Duncan — Wake Forest

Christian Laettner — Duke

Danny Ferry — Duke

Grant Hill — Duke

Phil Ford — UNC

J.J. Redick — Duke

Shane Battier — Duke

Len Bias — Maryland

Jay WIlliams — Duke

Billy Cunningham — UNC

Juan Dixon — Maryland

Chris Paul — Wake Forest

Antawn Jamison — UNC

Johnny Dawkins — Duke

Elton Brand — Duke

UNC Cole Anthony
Cole Anthony #2 of the North Carolina Tar Heels reacts after making a three-point basket against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the second half at the Dean Smith Center on November 06, 2019 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. North Carolina won 76-65. Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images