Star North Carolina guard Cole Anthony has hinted that he will return to the Tar Heels this season.
Anthony, who has been out since Dec. 8 with a knee injury, was expected to miss four to six weeks, which would have him on the verge of return.
Update Saturday 11:30 a.m. Anthony is not dressed. Senior guard Brandon Robinson and freshman Jeremiah Francis are both warming up and expected to play for the Tar Heels.
But there has been speculation that Anthony might just sit out the rest of the season and preserve his status as one of the top guard prospects in the 2020 NBA Draft.
That speculation has intensified with North Carolina’s current slide. Since Anthony’s injury, the Tar Heels have lost five of seven games and have dropped three straight entering Saturday’s game, including the first ever wins for Pitt and Clemson at Dean Smith Center.
Anthony posted on Instagram on Thursday that he “can’t wait to join [his] brothers on the court again.” It’s not clear how soon Anthony could return to the North Carolina lineup. UNC visits Pitt for a noon tip-off on Saturday.
Update, 10:20 p.m: Anthony made the trip to Pittsburgh, according to Jonathan Alexander of the Raleigh News-Observer. It will be the first time he’s traveled with the team since his injury.
North Carolina sits at 8-8 on the season with a 1-4 record in Atlantic Coast Conference play. Anthony’s return could very well preserve hopes for the season for Roy Williams and company.
“We’re not really happy with the way we’re playing,” Williams said on Monday’s ACC teleconference. “The injuries are an issue, there’s no question about that. But that’s also an excuse. I’ve never coached a team where I started four different point guards in one season.”
As Williams alluded to, Anthony hasn’t been the only high-level absence for the Tar Heels. Guard Anthony Harris will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury after playing only five games. Backup point guard Jeremiah Francis, who started against Pitt on Jan. 8, missed the Clemson loss and his status for Saturday is unknown, as is that of senior guard Brandon Robinson, who was in a car accident over the weekend.