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Shooting Star

Twenty-five-year-old Carmelo Anthony has an impressive résumé on and off the basketball court.
Kenneth Shouler
From the Print Edition:
Hugh Grant, November/December 2009

(continued from page 1)

By the time he reached middle school he stood six-foot-one and liked a variety of sports in addition to basketball. He entered Towson Catholic High School as a 14-year-old in fall 1998. He played pitcher and first base for the baseball team, and he was competitive at football, but there was no sign that he would make a career of his first sport—he was cut from the varsity basketball team. Then the following summer it happened.

"I grew four inches and I thought I was going to die, literally," says Anthony. "When you grow that fast your body is not used to that; my joints were hurting, my elbows, my knees, my shoulders—it was just painful."

The pain was dulled by the awards the now six-foot-five swingman and ball-handling whiz soon collected. The growth spurt brought his game to new levels. He won Baltimore Sun's metro player of the year in 2001, as well as Baltimore Catholic League player of the year.

He thought of college but university life wasn't automatic for a young man with a below-C average and low ACT scores. He and his mother decided that a change of scenery—and a tad more discipline—would be beneficial. He attended Virginia's Oak Hill Academy, a Baptist boarding school with a basketball reputation. There he was named to the McDonald's All-American Team, not to mention being named a USA Today First-Team All-American and a Parade First-Team All-American. "My career blossomed from my junior into senior year in high school,"

Anthony recalls. "It was just a matter of me—if I loved it and really wanted to go after it." He had raised his average to 2.5 and his ACT to 19, above the minimum score of 18 needed to qualify for Syracuse.

He could have jumped to the NBA, but didn't want to. "I wanted to go to college. I had the option; I had the grades. I could have gone to the NBA. I had committed to about five schools, including Georgia. I was just happy to be recruited. But I opted for Syracuse."

The draw was the coach. "It was [coach Jim] Boeheim, and me being born in New York." And what he got in college would make him a poster child for the NBA's "one-and-done-rule," in place since 2006, requiring draftees to be at least 19 years old and one year out of high school.

The one year at college was an education. "Being on the road, being away from friends, being away from family, going to different arenas and being able to perform in a hostile environment," says Anthony. The college experience "really helped me once I got to the NBA."

And he got one other small thing that was quite unexpected. In the spring of 2003 the Syracuse Orangemen won their first NCAA Championship since the tournament began in 1939. "I was in a blessed situation. I was lucky to go to college and get a national championship," he says. "Some people don't get to do that in four years."

And no one in the country expected them to walk off with a title, not from the start of the 2002-2003 season to the last game of March Madness. "Coming into the season, I think we were ranked about 50 something," Anthony recalls. "It was actually about 35th," Boeheim says. No matter: the odds were much longer than usual.

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