Cole Anthony Wants to Play for UNC After Knee Injury Rehab: 'I'm All-In'

Blake SchusterContributor IIIJanuary 28, 2020

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - DECEMBER 07: Cole Anthony #2 of the North Carolina Tar Heels dribbles in the first half during a game against the Virginia Cavaliers at John Paul Jones Arena on December 7, 2019 in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images)
Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

Cole Anthony has no plans to leave the University of North Carolina amid a down year for the program as the star freshman guard continues to rehab a knee injury suffered early in the season.

The former McDonald's All-American was a five-star recruit coming out of high school and was named to the preseason Wooden Award watch list. UNC is currently 10-10 (3-6 ACC) this season. 

"I'm like, 'Yo, I'm all-in.' I want to play with these guys again," Anthony said, per the Associated Press (h/t/ ESPN). "I don't like how I left the court with these dudes. I feel like I can give them a lot more than I did. When I get back on the court, I'm going to leave everything there."

   

Anthony, who was averaging 19.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game, hasn't played since a December 8 loss to No. 5 Virginia, and while North Carolina's problems run deeper than one missing piece, the Tar Heels' drop off since then has been noticeable. 

UNC is just 4-7 since Anthony's injury and has fallen to the bottom of the ACC standings. Barring a conference tournament victory, a trip to the NCAA tournament this March seems improbable. Anthony's presence could certainly help the Tar Heels make a run in the ACC Tournament, but when he can return—and what level he can play at should that happen—remains a mystery. 

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Anthony told the AP he's getting better "slowly but surely." He's now at the six-week mark in his recovery after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to repair a partially torn meniscus in his right knee and noted he's still feeling a little pain. Rather than push through it, Anthony said he wants to make sure he's at "110 percent" before he returns to the floor. 

Given his NBA draft stock, it's hard to fault him. 

Anthony was considered a one-and-done recruit before even stepping foot in Chapel Hill. As the team he committed to began to crumble, it would have been all too easy for the freshman to worry about his own future rather than helping his team bounce back. 

As long as he's able to rejoin his teammates, it sounds as though Anthony is willing to do so. 

"It hurts me not to be on the court with all these dudes on this team," Anthony said. "They're my brothers. You've got to trust the process, you can't rush it, don't want to go in there and just get hurt again."