The North Carolina Tar Heel’s star freshman point guard Cole Anthony will not be seen in Spokane. A North Carolina team release said he will miss 4-6 weeks after an arthroscopic procedure to repair a partially torn meniscus.
Anthony has been one of the more exciting players in basketball and was a large reason for UNC’s preseason excitement. He arrived at UNC as the top-rated combo guard in the class of 2019 and the fourth player in the nation overall. Largely, he has lived up to the expectations. Anthony leads the Tarheels in points with 19.1 per game and is third in rebounds with 6.3.
Things have slowly trended in the wrong direction for UNC as the season has gone on, and without Anthony at the helm, it is a legitimate question how the Tar Heels replace the offense he creates. Anthony leads the team in possession percentage by large margin, commanding 32.3 of them (food for the 25th-highest mark in the country). He also takes 32.9 percent of all of their shots.
That means the Tar Heels are led by K.J. Smith, a former walk-on who earned a scholarship this season. Smith was serviceable in his first start against Wofford, scoring seven points and dishing out four assists—quite the dip in production from Anthony.
At the beginning of the season, back when UNC was a preseason top 10 team, KenPom put this game against Gonzaga as a pretty close toss up. Now, with the Tar Heels tumbling out of the top 25 on the back of three-consecutive losses, he has Gonzaga listed as a 78 percent favorite to win the game.