Greg Anthony knows a couple things about college ball. He played a full four seasons in college—one at the University of Portland and three more at UNLV. His Vegas squad won the 1990 National Championship behind Anthony (the point guard), Larry Johnson and Stacey Augmon. These days, he plays alongside the likes of Jim Nantz and David Aldridge while calling NCCA Tournament games, including the Final Four, and working as an NBA TV analyst.
Naturally, when SLAM got the opportunity to speak with the collegiate hoops wiz right before tomorrow’s Draft, we jumped on it. Below is an edited transcript from our talk.
SLAM: NBA TV will be conducting a mock draft on air tonight at 9 p.m. How will that work?
Greg Anthony: We’ll work off of David Aldridge’s mock draft that he released a few days ago. We’ll announce the picks and then give a breakdown. We have John Thompson to give a coach’s perspective, Stu Jackson, a former front-office person who also worked for the League under David Stern, and myself. We’ll just have some fun.
SLAM: Who would you draft first overall this year?
GA: With Embiid having the foot injuries, that does open up the door. I do think it’s between two guys, Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker. Parker is probably a little more polished at this stage, but Wiggins has some more potential. And I tend to lean toward a guy with a little more potential long-term.
SLAM: The top of the Draft is dominated by freshmen. Do you think that’s a bad thing?
GA: I’m not a fan of one-and-done; I think it should be a none-and-done. I don’t think you should shave to go to college in order to be drafted. We’re the only country that does it. That part of it bothers me. Look at the best players in our League—a lot of those guys didn’t go to college or only went for one year. But I see the argument from both sides.
SLAM: You played with a tremendous freshman at UNLV in Larry Johnson. Have you seen a more dominant freshman since?
GA: You think about Kevin Durant, just how great he was after his freshman year. Conversely, Michael Beasley was really good after his freshman year as well, but you see the differences in the paths that those two careers have taken. Carmelo Anthony was pretty damn good as well—won a National Championship at Syracuse as a freshman. So, you know, it’s really hard to say.
SLAM: The hype surrounding Andrew Wiggins entering his first collegiate season was insane. How do you think he handled it off the court?
GA: I thought he handled it very well. I spent a lot of time with his coach, Bill Self, and one thing he raved about was that Wiggins allowed him to coach him—you know, he could get on him. And away from the court, he was a terrific teammate, and that’s really something that you wanna focus on when you’re looking at evaluating players, too. Character does matter. Most of these kids that are coming out early have proven to be really quality people.
SLAM: Julius Randle’s draft stock has seemingly taken a bit of a tumble in the last few weeks. How do you think he’ll fare in the NBA?
GA: If he’s healthy, I think he’s got a chance. He’s another guy who loves the game, is passionate about it, has worked extremely hard, and I love the fact that he’s set high goals for himself. That’s important because there are a lot of really good players who just want to be good, they don’t want to be great. I think that he wants to be great. I think that’s something that will serve him well on the journey. Foot problems aside—if everything checks out—I think he has an opportunity to be a terrific player.
SLAM: Every year there’s a player who goes outside of the lottery who, a few years later, we can’t believe slipped that far. Which player is that in this Draft?
GA: Cleanthony Early. He’s a terrific talent, explosive athlete, can really shoot the ball. Prototype size. He has a chance to be really special. I love Doug McDermott—focusing on seniors who stayed at school and let their games really flourish. He’s one of the great shooters I’ve ever seen in college, but he can also play really well without the basketball. Shabazz Napier I also love. One of the smartest basketball players I’ve seen on the college level in a long time. Mentally, has a complete understanding of how to play the game and play the position.
SLAM: Do you think we’ll see many trades involving high picks during the Draft?
GA: I absolutely do. There’s enough depth where teams might want to move down. Hypothetically, if you’re the Cavs, you could get the guy you want in the top-five without having to draft him No. 1, and pick up another pick or quality player. And that’s not the case every year. But this is a year where, because there’s so much depth, teams might be more willing to do that.
SLAM: There’s a lot of crap thrown out there by agents and teams leading up to the Draft. How hard is it to filter through that and find the truth?
GA: For me it’s easy because I’m just basing it off what I see. The only thing I wait to get are the measurables. I look at it from the standpoint of what system they played in and what their skill set is. I’ve gone through the process, I know what an agent is—they’re like politicians [laughs]. I get that aspect of it. It doesn’t make my job any more difficult. But it’s fun to hear all of the speculation. I love it.