RICHMOND, Va. – Once again, the scouting report on Richmond’s basketball team will be headlined by an undersized, agile, score-first point guard with the initials K.A.
Spider great Kevin Anderson and his 2,000 career points are not on Richmond’s team this season, but 5-foot-8, 140-pound freshman Kendall Anthony is, and he’s doing a pretty good Anderson impersonation this season.
Through eight games, Anthony has been splendid for the Spiders, averaging a team-leading 15.4 points in 24.0 minutes per game off the bench. The runner-up for Tennessee Mr. Basketball last season, Anthony has posted two 20-point games, including 21 his last time out at Wake Forest. He’s shooting 44 percent (16-of-36) from 3-point range.
Richmond is coming off back-to-back NCAA appearances, including last year’s Sweet 16 berth, but the Spiders were thought to be rebuilding. Richmond, much like VCU, lost three critical senior starters.
But Anthony, as well as a youthful core that includes sophomore guard Cedrick Lindsay, has been one of the primary reasons UR is 6-2 and ahead of schedule.
“It’s so rare and so unique for a player to do so well this early in his career,” said Richmond Coach Chris Mooney.
Anthony’s blend of quickness and shooting ability promise to make him one of the more difficult matchups for the Rams Friday when they meet Richmond at the Verizon Wireless Arena at 8 p.m.
VCU’s Darius Theus, Briante Weber and Rob Brandenberg will all likely guard Anthony at some point. All of them are considered strong defenders, but that doesn’t make the task any easier.
“He’s very quick, he’s very low to the ground,” said VCU Head Coach Shaka Smart. “He’s good at changing speeds, so you’ve got to stay in a stance. He’s a good shooter, so you want to contest him, and you don’t want to send him to the foul line because he’s shooting 90-plus percent from there.”
It sounded like Smart covered just about every aspect of offensive basketball. Despite Anthony’s wealth of skills, the Rams aren’t going to try to reinvent the wheel when defending him.
“Rule No. 1 is keep him in front of you,” said Theus. “If we can do that, then we should be fine.”
Anthony has failed to score in double digits just once this season and has posted totals of 21, 20, 18 and 17 (twice).