Cole Anthony, Isaiah Stewart 1-2 In POY Race!
National Grassroots Editor
Ronnie has evaluated basketball talent for 20 years and has over 15 years of experience in publishing, editing and managing high school sports websites for companies such as Student Sports, ESPN and Ballislife. Ronnie compiles the FAB 50 National Team Rankings while serving as an account manager and consultant for grassroots event run by Ballislife and other companies, in addition to serving as a color commentator on high school broadcasts.
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Point guard Cole Anthony of Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) is the top vote-getter in the second to last Mr. Basketball USA Tracker powered by Ballislife.com, now in its twelfth year. Anthony heads to GEICO Nationals this week, as does Isaiah Stewart of FAB 50 No. 1 la Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.), who comes in a close second behind Anthony in the national player of the year race. How will GEICO Nationals affect this year’s close national POY race?
As the season winds down, the elite performers have separated themselves from the pack in the latest 2018-19 Mr. Basketball USA Tracker powered by Ballislife.com. The race for the prestigious national honor was wide open in the preseason and during the regular season, but with only GEICO Nationals and the national all-star game circuit to complete, the list of legitimate national player of the year candidates has trimmed down and the top candidates are now in focus.
In the last go-around, 22 candidates received recognition from the 10-man Mr. Basketball USA Tracker panel, but in the latest voting results, 17 players made the cut as legitimate candidates. While no candidate appeared on all 10 ballots in the previous tracker, the top two candidates heading down the stretch are on the radar of the entire panel. Fittingly, their seasons are not complete yet and what transpires in the next few weeks could swing the votes in favor of the eventual winner.
Those two players are point guard, Cole Anthony of FAB 50 No. 17 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) and power forward Isaiah Stewart of No. 1 La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.). Both Anthony and Stewart appeared on 10 ballots (no other player appeared on more than eight) with Anthony leading the way with 84 total points, four points more than the Washington-bound Stewart. Anthony, still undecided for college, garnered four of the 10 first-place votes and two other second-place votes, while Stewart had two first-place and two second place votes among his 80 total points.
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In the previous tracker, Anthony tied with junior center Evan Mobley of FAB 50 No. 39 Rancho Christian (Temecula, Calif.) for first place, but Anthony’s performance at the 42nd annual McDonald’s All-American Game and the early exit for Mobley’s team in the post-season caused changed at the top of the voting results. Mobley appeared on eight ballots and only dropped a single option overall (from 64 to 63), but Anthony and Stewart gained traction and gobbled up many of the points that previously went to fringe candidates to take control of the race.
Mobley might be the top long-term prospect of the entire group, but he’s done for the season, while Anthony and Stewart used McDonald’s to propel their candidacy. The point guard matchup between the East’s Anthony and the West’s Nico Mannion of FAB 50 No. 47 Pinnacle (Phoenix, Ariz.) was one of the most highly-anticipated matchups of the prestigious all-star game. Mannion (who was one of five candidates to receive a first-place vote) played well during McDonald’s practices, but the East club dominated the scrimmage and when the bright lights came on in the nationally-televised game, Anthony put his stamp on the game from the onset with his explosiveness and pin-point passing and took home the McDonald’s Most Valuable Player award. The son of former NBA point guard Greg Anthony finished with 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting, five rebounds, seven assists, two blocks and zero assists.
Stewart, a recruiting gem for Mike Hopkins at Washington, was arguably the most productive and competitive player from start to finish at McDonald’s. He had a competitive battle with seven-foot James Wiseman of Memphis East (Memphis, Tenn.), who had one first-place vote and 47 points overall, and was one of the most impressive performers in the game, finishing with 16 points on 8-of-11 shooting and five rebounds in the East’s 115-110 victory. Stewart is the ringleader for the nation’s No. 1 ranked team, averaging 18.1 ppg, 11.3 rpg and 2.9 bpg and looking to lead the Lakers to a GEICO Nationals championship this week in New York City.
“He’s the best low-post player in the country and out played Wiseman at McDonald’s,” said tracker panelist and McDonald’s All-American committee member Frank Burlison of BurlisonOnBasketball.com. “He’s certainly a worthy national player of the year candidate and should be an instant 17 ppg guy at Washington. If La Lumiere wins GEICO Nationals and is dominant, it will be hard to pick against him.”
The top-seeded Lakers open with FAB 50 No. 25 Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.) on April 4 (2 pm ET, ESPNU) while fourth seeded Oak Hill Academy takes on No. 5 seed Wasatch Academy (Mt. Pleasant, Utah) at 6 pm ET (ESPNU). If Stewart leads La Lumiere to the GEICO Nationals title, will that propel him in front of Anthony in the Mr. Basketball USA race? Or if Anthony has a big opening game and leads Oak Hill to the semifinals or title game, will his performances be enough to hold off Stewart and the other top candidates?
“We have only lost one game when our team was at full strength,” Oak Hill Academy coach Steve Smith said. “Cole didn’t play in two of our four losses. He’s healthy now, and I like our chances in the GEICO Nationals. It’s obviously, one game at a time, but he’s the best player in the tournament. He facilitates for our team, and when he’s on his game, we will be an extremely tough out.”
Similar to the race for the No. 1 spot in the FAB 50, it looks like the most prestigious individual honor in the country will be decided by what happens on the court all the way until the very end and that’s an exciting development because often times the honoree is quite obvious by this time in the season.
Make sure to tune into the ESPN family of networks April 4-6 to catch GEICO Nationals and stay logged in to Ballislife.com to track the progress of the nation’s top individual players and the nation’s Top teams.
Editor’s Note: Click on the “+” sign next to each player’s number to view how many first, second, third or fourth place votes he got and his overall point total.
|1||1T||Cole Anthony (10)||Oak Hill (VA)||4||2||2||0||84|
|2||3||Isaiah Stewart (10)||La Lumiere (IN)||2||2||3||2||80|
|3||1T||Evan Mobley (8)||Rancho Christian (CA)||2||2||1||0||63|
|4||7||James Wiseman (7)||Memphis East (TN)||1||0||1||2||47|
|5||4||Anthony Edwards (6)||Holy Spirit (GA)||0||1||0||3||38|
|6||5||Vernon Carey (5)||University School (FL)||0||1||0||1||31|
|7||8||Scottie Lewis (3)||Memphis East (TN)||0||1||0||1||26|
|8||6||Sharife Cooper (3)||McEachern (GA)||0||1||1||0||23|
|9||9T||Precious Achiuwa (4)||Montverde Academy (FL)||0||0||1||0||22|
|10T||12T||Onyeka Okongwu (3)||Chino Hills (CA)||0||0||0||1||16|
|10T||16||Nico Mannion (2)||Pinnacle (AZ)||1||0||0||0||16|
|12||9T||Cade Cunningham (2)||Montverde Academy (FL)||0||0||0||0||12|
|13||11||Jaden McDaniels (2)||Federal Way (WA)||0||0||0||0||11|
|14||12T||Trendon Watford (1)||Mountain Brook (AL)||0||0||1||0||8|
|15||14T||Jalen Green (1)||San Joaquin Memorial (CA)||0||0||0||0||5|
|16T||NR||Dashien Nix (1)||Simply Fundamental (NV)||0||0||0||0||4|
|16T||18T||Khalil Whitney (1)||Roselle Catholic (NJ)||0||0||0||0||4|
About Mr. Basketball USA Tracker Panel
Ballislife.com’s panel of 10 experts, which includes six McDonald’s All-American selection committee members, casts its vote for the top national player of the year candidates. Each panelist lists his top seven candidates regardless of class. The votes are then tabulated on a 10-point scoring system with a first-place vote equaling 10 points, a second-place vote earning nine points and down to four points for a seventh-place vote. The number in parenthesis refers to the numbers of ballots on which a player appeared and previous rankings refers to position in last season’s final tracker.