The mindset that prepared Magic’s Cole Anthony for NBA success

April 8, 2023

How Cole Anthony’s New York City upbringing helped shape him into the player he is today.

Crystal McCrary McGuire & Cole Anthony

Crystal McCrary McGuire and Cole Anthony at the 2020 NBA Draft. (Credit: Hector Martinez)

When Orlando Magic guard Cole Anthony was in eighth grade and taking part in Chris Paul’s basketball camp, his mindset shifted.

There’s not a player in this country that’s better than me.

“I was just killing everybody at the camp.” Anthony chuckled, reminiscing on the path that got the third year guard to his home in Orlando. “That’s probably why I really started to work, because I truly started to believe that I could, you know, be an NBA player, be a one and done, [and] get there as soon as possible.”

And that’s just what he did, all according to plan.

His mother Crystal McCrary McGuire was not surprised. “I don’t know that Cole had a plan B. I think that Cole only had a plan A and that was to play in the NBA,” McCrary McGuire told

“I damn sure ain’t had no plan B,” Anthony confirmed. “There was never a situation where I wanted to do anything else. It was always, ‘I want to go to the NBA.”

His battery was only further charged by his New York City upbringing, a place known for breeding some of the nation’s top hoopers, and point guards at that. Anthony is among some of the league’s best upcoming talents from the Empire State. His father, Greg Anthony, also began his NBA career in New York when he was drafted by the Knicks in 1991.

“New York is the basketball mecca for a reason. We got dudes those that can just flat-out hoop everywhere,” said Anthony. “It’s a great lineage of hoopers who have came from New York, and I’m just happy to be a part of that.”

“New York City being the media capital of the world, when [Cole] was coming through high school, there was just more of a glare on him than a lot of other players across the country.” McCrary McGuire remembers.

But that’s what comes with being a New York City baller, and according to Anthony, a New York City kid in general.

“Kids grow up faster in New York.” Anthony said, “That’s not even like an opinionated thing.”

It was his mother’s similar mentality that helped prepare the now 22-year-old guard to thrive amidst the bright lights. Along with raising Cole and his siblings, Ella and Leo, McCray-McGuire is an author, entrepreneur, filmmaker – a boss by nature.

Crystal McCrary McGuire & Cole Anthony
Making it to the NBA was never an ‘if’ but a ‘when’ for Cole Anthony, now in his 3rd season with the Orlando Magic.

“I have always been the sort of person that if I start a task, I execute fully to completion.” McCrary McGuire said, “That has just been an inner drive that I have had for some years – I start something, I’m going to finish it, and I’m going to finish it to the best of my ability.”

Now look at Cole.

In the seven years since his 8th grade proclamation, Anthony racked up a Gatorade Player of the Year, earned McDonalds All-American Game and Jordan Brand Classic MVP honors, led his University of North Carolina team in scoring, and added the most points ever by a UNC and ACC freshman (34) at the time of his 2019 debut.

Then, his dreams became reality when he was selected No. 15 overall by the Magic in the 2020 Draft.

I’d say the mother-son duo share their determination gene.

Since joining the Magic, Anthony continues to take his game to the next level, proving to be a key role player on his Orlando squad. He averaged 13.0 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists over 60 games this season.

He concludes his third year in the league as a seasoned point guard that brings a chippy savviness to the court – a style he’s had his whole life. And for McCrary McGuire, she’s simply proud to watch her son’s dreams in action. She admires from the stands – whether in Orlando or back in New York – at the life Cole envisioned, now as reality.

“We always knew that Cole was going to be a success no matter what he did. He’s a quick learner, he’s smart, he’s ambitious, he’s competitive,” she said.

Her youngest son Leo watches with her, following in the similar footsteps of his older brother. But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves, he’s only 10 years old.

“I do believe that hard work is in our DNA. I absolutely believe that about our family.”