Anthony Black Looking to Make the Most of Experience at Nike Hoop Summit
The late add to the roster is eager to show all he can do ahead of freshman season at Arkansas
Anthony Black knows what it’s like to do things at the last moment.
After a long grueling college recruitment process, the 18-year-old made his decision to join the Arkansas Razorbacks on March 28. The No. 20 ranked prospect on the ESPN 100 for the class of 2022, Black made a rapid ascension from relative unknown to on the radar for every recruiter.
The same could be said of Black’s process to be selected to represent USA Basketball at the 2022 Nike Hoop Summit. Black replaced Jonathan “J.J.” Starling on April 4, with the game between the top U.S. men’s high school seniors and top international prospects to follow just four days later.
“They called my mom, and I was pretty much half asleep on the couch,” Black said of getting the news. “My mom was like, ‘Coach B.J. (Domingo) is on the phone and he asked if you want to go to the Hoop Summit.’ So, I woke up and I snapped back. I was just really happy. It was a quick turnaround. I left the next day. I was excited.”
Like many young athletes, Black did not always focus solely on a single sport. He dabbled with football in addition to basketball while growing up.
“It was probably my AAU coach,” Black said of what inspired him to focus on basketball. “I started playing summer basketball in sixth grade. I played a lot of other sports too, but just working with him. Me just playing my sports thru high school. My junior year I was like, I just wanna play basketball until I can get really good at it. So I just made that decision.
“I love playing basketball, working out, all that stuff. With football, it was just kinda like I like the games. I just love to hoop and work out. Just everything about basketball makes me happy.”
Black may have been a late addition to the roster, but he definitely does not lack confidence as to how he can make a positive impact with this team in Portland.
“I just wanna show everyone I’m a winning player, help my teammates win, help my teammates look better. Help myself to really show people that I’m an elite two-way player, just a winner overall.”
NBA scouts and executives were on hand during some of the practices to see the players for themselves. Black believes this will be a fantastic opportunity for him to show that he is capable of making it and excelling at the NBA level.
A huge factor as to why the five-star athlete chose Arkansas was head coach Eric Musselman’s willingness to allow the young players to run the show, while backing them with guidance and knowledge. Musselman’s coaching staff includes over 70 years of NBA experience.
“I know that coach Muss knows what it takes for big guards to get to the league,” said the 6-foot-7 Black. “I want the coach to stay on me 24/7. I know they’re gonna hold me accountable. Make sure I’m tightening up to get to the next level.”
And what is it exactly that the young phenom hopes that Arkansas can help him fine tune in his game?
“Just everything,” Black said. “Ball handling, shooting, strength, defense, everything. Knowing the game, knowing how to run an NBA offense.”
Nike Hoop Summit teammate Nick Smith, Jr. will be playing in the Arkansas backcourt with Black. Together, Black believes they have a legitimate shot at winning the NCAA title next season.
“Having Nick there, I know we can have a special team. We can win the championship.”
There have been a lot of big guards that have made their way as successful point guards in today’s NBA. Black sees two particular young stars in the NBA that he tries to model and emulate.
“Right now, I watch a lot of Cade Cunningham and Shai Gilgeous(-Alexander). Obviously, Cade’s a tall guard like me. There are some similarities in our game. With Shai, he plays with a lot of pace too, which is how I like to play. Just watching those two trying to take stuff out of their game.”
After Black made the transition to point guard full time last season, he has seen his stock rise. Many people have drawn comparisons to Cunningham because of his height advantage and ability to do it all on the court.
During Thursday’s scrimmage, he showed flashes of his ability as a defender to stay in front of his opponents to harass opposing players and make life difficult for opponents, something that will be key when the USA takes the floor against the talented and athletic World Select Team.
Be sure to watch live as the USA takes on the World Select Team on April 8 at 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET on a free livestream, available on usabasketball.com and USA Basketball Twitter, as well as nba.com, the NBA App, and the NBA’s YouTube channel and Facebook page. The NBA and USA Basketball will cohost a feed on their respective Twitch channels.
Sam Yip is a freelance contributor to USAB.com on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.