Cole Anthony, arguably the nation’s top point guard and a player who must put up big numbers for Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) to remain in the FAB 50 national title hunt, leads voting in 2018-19 preseason Mr. Basketball USA Tracker powered by Ballislife.com, now in its twelfth year. The senior guard and son of former NBA player Greg Anthony edges power forward Vernon Carey of University School (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.), last year’s National Junior Player of the Year, by seven points.
Plenty of factors go into an individual award such as high school basketball national player of the year and one of the biggest ones is opportunity. A majority of the top candidates over the years played for winning programs and had the opportunity to perform against other quality teams and players. Those two facts went a long way in determining the top national player of the year candidates in the preseason 2018-19 Mr. Basketball USA Tracker powered by Ballislife.com.
The evidence is clear reviewing the 2018-19 preseason ballots of the 10-man Mr. Basketball USA Tracker panel of national scouts. As the 2018-19 season tips off, the most highly-regarded senior point guard on the nation’s No. 2 ranked team in the preseason FAB 50 National Team Rankings is the top vote-getter over last season’s National Junior of the Year. Cole Anthony, the top player for No. 2 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.), is the leading vote-getter for the nation’s most prestigious individual honor and the only player among 22 candidates to appear on all ten ballots. Anthony collected 81 points, including 20 points as the top vote-getter on two ballots, to best 6-foot-9 senior Vernon Carey of FAB 50 No. 5 University School (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) by seven points (74).
Carey was the only other player besides Anthony to appear on at least nine ballots and received the most first-place votes (four). There were six players who received a first-place vote: Carey, Anthony and one vote apiece for 7-foot junior Evan Mobley of FAB 50 No. 24 Rancho Christian (Temecula, Calif.), 6-foot-11 senior James Wiseman of FAB 50 No. 25 Memphis East (Memphis, Tenn.), 6-foot-5 junior Anthony Edwards of No. 35 Holy Spirit Prep (Atlanta), and 6-foot-8 Precious Achiuwa of FAB 50 No. 1 Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.).
In what could make for the most exciting Mr. Basketball USA race in recent memory, the Mr. Basketball Tracker panel has varying opinions on whom could emerge as the top player in the country after some recent season where it was a lot more obvious whom that player was (i.e. Ben Simmons in 2015). While all of the above mentioned candidates are impact players on nationally-ranked teams, only Anthony is a point guard and the panel is of the general consensus that his play is key in his team’s success, which will ultimately impact his individual honors.
“First thing, Cole Anthony is very important to Oak Hill and the national schedule it plays,” said panel member and McDonald’s All-American voter Van Coleman, the TheBasketballChannel.net VP of Content who was one of four voters to place Carey No. 1. “He is going to have the ball in his hands, so there is an advantage there in terms of his potential production. He’s going to have pressure, too, because it’s up to him to get Oak Hill’s other players involved and get them to perform at a level to be in the discussion at the end of the season. If they enter GEICO Nationals unbeaten or with one loss, he’s going to be right there (in the race).”
How a candidate performed the previous summer and high school season are important factors in determining the preseason pecking order among elite players. Last season, Carey led University School to a 35-2 record and No. 2 ranking in the final FAB 50 by averaging 26.1 ppg and 10.4 rpg. He shined at GEICO Nationals, including a 13-of-16 from the field, 29-point performance in the semifinal win over No. 3 Oak Hill Academy and finished No. 3 in last year’s final tracker behind eventual Mr. Basketball USA honoree R.J. Barrett and runner-up Zion Williamson, who are arguably the best two NCAA players at Duke University. Anthony, who finished No. 20 in last season’s final tracker, didn’t have quite the level of production at Archbishop Malloy (Queens, N.Y.) that Carey did for his high school team, but turned it on over the summer to surpass Carey in the preseason balloting. Anthony was named Most Valuable Player on the 2018 Nike EYBL circuit, averaging 26.9 points, 7.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.4 steals over 16 EYBL games for the PSA Cardinals travel ball club.
The panel understands for Carey, some of the shine may be taken by his own teammate (small forward Scottie Barnes) and the group really likes Mobley, who some feel is the best overall prospect in the country, but understand his older brother Isaiah Mobley is on the team and put up better statistics last season and like the other top inside players, is dependent on guards getting them the ball. Anthony doesn’t have those variables to deal with.
“By the end of the summer, Vernon Carey was production-wise, the easy choice as top big man,” said Coleman. “Evan Mobley is the better prospect, but doesn’t mean that Carey, James Wiseman, Anthony and Anthony Edwards aren’t going to be good pros.”
Coleman had high praise for Mobley, even though he didn’t peg him as his No. 1 national player of the year candidate, favorably comparing the Rancho Christian junior to 1995 Mr. Basketball USA Kevin Garnett. Mobley garnered four second-place votes, but did not appear at all on two ballots.
“He’s Kevin Garnett with better range,” Coleman said. “Kevin didn’t have a jumper at that point. He dominated with length and desire. Again, I’m comparing junior to junior, not what Kevin would become to be when he did have a jump shot.”
Achiuwa, who collected a first-place vote but only appeared on two ballots, was one of two Monterde Academy players to receive a vote. The other was 6-foot-6 junior Cade Cunningham, who collected five points after finishing No. 6 on one ballot. Carey and Barnes, who appeared on three ballots, were the only other set of teammates to appear among the 22 candidates. Carey will narrow his college choice down to three programs this week, Anthony is undecided and Wiseman, who is the No. 1 prospect in the nation according to 247Sports.com, will make his college choice November 20.
So will Anthony (literally) control his own destiny, or will Carey’s production move him to the top of the list by the end of the season? Can Mobley or another candidate overcome some of the shortcomings their candidacy’s possess? One thing is for sure, it will be exciting to see how it unfolds as the Mr. Basketball USA race is for the taking.
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||20||Cole Anthony (10)||Oak Hill (VA)||2||3||1||3||81|
|2||3||Vernon Carey (9)||University School (FL)||4||1||1||0||74|
|3||NR||Evan Mobley (8)||Rancho Christian (CA)||1||4||1||0||64|
|4||NR||Anthony Edwards (6)||Holy Spirit (GA)||1||1||2||0||45|
|5||NR||Isaiah Stewart (6)||La Lumiere (IN)||0||0||1||2||35|
|6||14T||James Wiseman (4)||Memphis East (TN)||1||0||3||0||34|
|7||NR||Jaden McDaniels (4)||Federal Way (WA)||0||0||0||0||19|
|8||17T||Jalen Green (3)||San Joaquin Memorial (CA)||0||0||0||2||18|
|9||12T||Onyeka Okongwu (3)||Chino Hills (CA)||0||0||1||0||18|
|10T||NR||Scottie Barnes (3)||University School (FL)||0||0||0||0||17|
|10T||NR||Precious Achiuwa (2)||Montverde Academy (FL)||1||0||0||1||17|
|12T||NR||Jonathan Kuminga (2)||Our Savior New American (NY)||0||0||0||0||9|
|12T||17T||Nico Mannion (1)||Pinnacle (AZ)||0||1||0||0||9|
|14T||NR||Armando Bacot (1)||IMG Academy (FL)||0||0||0||1||7|
|14T||NR||Patrick Baldwin (1)||Hamilton (WI)||0||0||0||1||7|
|14T||17T||Scottie Lewis (1)||Ranney School (NJ)||0||0||0||1||7|
|17T||NR||R.J. Hampton (1)||Little Elm (TX)||0||0||0||0||6|
|17T||NR||Tyrese Maxey (1)||South Garland (TX)||0||0||0||0||6|
|19||NR||Cade Cunningham (1)||Montverde Academy (FL)||0||0||0||0||5|
|20T||NR||Sharife Cooper (1)||McEachern (GA)||0||0||0||0||4|
|20T||NR||Matthew Hurt (1)||Marshall (MN)||0||0||0||0||4|
|20T||NR||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.