August 12, 2011
For the second consecutive year, there were no California players selected to the McDonald’s High School All-American game. There is no denying that there has been a recent talent swoon in California but the class of 2012 is about to change that trend. Dynamic guards, talented swingmen and dominant big men highlight an incredibly deep class and Cali High Sports looks at the best of the best in our countdown of the top 30 players for 2012.
We continue our countdown with small forward Anthony January, who is a prestigious talent but comes with some question marks.
#12 Anthony January
Position: Small forward
School: St. John Bosco
Schools Considering: UTEP (soft commit), Colorado, UCLA, Oregon (heavy interest, none of those three have offered)
Most elite high school players are athletic, but Anthony January takes it to a different level. He is one of the most physically gifted players in the country and brings back memories of Demar Derozan, another small forward from Compton. At 6’7 Anthony has perfect size for the small forward position, which he combines with the speed of a guard and jaw dropping leaping ability.
Anthony is unstoppable in transition. His huge frame and long arms help him sky up and snare rebounds and his instincts help him track down long rebounds outside the paint, and once Anthony gets the ball off the board he shoots down the other end. He has the presence of mind to usually give the ball to a guard before filling the wings but he is more then capable of handling the rock himself, something rare for a guy his size. Once he gets moving Anthony just blows by everyone else. He has these beautiful long strides that just make the court shrink and leave fans wondering how he could go from end to end so quickly. Once near the rim Anthony simply flies off the ground and attacks the basket like he is trying to rip the rim off the glass.
He gets so high in the air yet maintains incredible body control. At 6’7 with a surprisingly strong frame he doesn’t really face anyone who can physically challenge him at the rim, which leads to thunderous dunks that can swing the momentum of a game. Anthony is most effective in a transition game but can also score in the half-court set, although most of his points do come at the rim. He can handle the ball well and usually his size to create space and has an improving touch around the rim. He does an excellent job of attacking the basket aggressively and is sure to draw plenty of fouls at the basket and has an improving stroke at the stripe. A lack of a jump shot was one of Anthony’s biggest flaws but in recent months he has improved considerably and is now a fine set shooter with an improving pull up game.
On defense Anthony can lock down anyone when he wants to. He is laterally quick enough to guard shooting guards, while at the high school level he is big enough to guard centers. He protects the rim by swatting shots out of the air and his leaping ability makes him a menace on the boards. Even if a guy gets by him his length and speed allow him to catch up from behind and when Anthony is faced with the challenge of guarding an elite level player, he always takes him game to another level.
Anthony January is an athletic superstar who is slowly but surely becoming a better basketball player. His potential is limitless as his raw athletic tools are as rare as they are prestigious.
The next level?: January currently has committed to UTEP but is a soft commit. He should thrive at sudden powerhouse St. John Bosco as the presence of Isaac Hamilton will allow him to take guys one on one and thrive in transition. January has question marks surrounding him because of his abrupt departure from Compton High last year but he is a player who makes heads turn in games. Once he starts getting on the court on a consistent basis other schools will come calling and January will definitely listen.
At the next level Anthony will be an ideal 3 who can also play some 4. At the very least he can be a Tyrus Thomas type who affects the game with his athleticism but under the right system with the right coaches he could really blossom into an All-Conference type player.
Cali High Grade: 85