Alabama vs. No. 6 North Carolina
When: 1:30 p.m. CT
Where: Atlantis Resort, Nassau, Bahamas
Records: Alabama 2-2, North Carolina 4-0
TV: ESPN or ESPN2
Radio: 95.3 FM
A couple of years ago, Kira Lewis Jr. and Cole Anthony were two of the top point guard recruits in the nation, often paired against one another at elite prep showcase events.
Lewis then opted to graduate from high school early and enroll at Alabama. Anthony — the son of former UNLV and New York Knicks star Greg Anthony — chose to play his senior season at Oak Hill (Va.) Academy before signing with North Carolina, where he is now regarded as the top freshman guard in the nation.
The two will meet again Wednesday afternoon as Alabama plays the No. 6 Tar Heels in the opening round of the Battle for Atlantis, an elite 8-team tournament in Nassau, Bahamas.
“I know him pretty well,” Lewis said last Friday before the Crimson Tide departed for Nassau. “We used to camp together. He’s a great player, a good shooter.”
Anthony averages 22.8 points per game to lead the Tar Heels. Lewis leads Alabama with 21.5 points per game. But Crimson Tide head coach Nate Oats says it’s game will not be a one-on-one contest.
“They’re still figuring themselves out, but everything they do runs through (Anthony),” Oats said. “Whenever things break down for them, he gets the ball back. They don’t get to the end of the shot clock very often, but if they do, the ball finds his hands and he takes the shot.
“You can’t make it one-on-one deal with just him and Kira. Our team defensive concept has to help. Kira will be matched on him, he’ll be matched on Kira and I’m sure there will be a bunch of NBA scouts watching. Those are two guys a lot of NBA teams are looking at. But they’re so good in transition that Kira may have to pick somebody else up, somebody may have to pick him Kira for them. So Shack (freshman guard Jaden Shackleford), (John) Petty, Herb (Jones) are all going to be on Anthony at some point.”
Alabama guard Beetle Bolden had a cast removed from his right hand on Monday but is expected to be a game-time decision regarding eligibility.
The Alabama-North Carolina game is bracketed with the Iowa State-Michigan game in the Battle For Atlantis. The Crimson Tide will face either the Wolverines or the Cyclones on Thursday depending on the outcome of Wednesday’s game.
Three other nationally ranked teams — No. 8 Gonzaga, No. 11 Oregon and No. 13 Seton Hall — will also be in the field.
“I think these games are big,” Oats said. “If you are going to compete in the SEC, you’re going to have to compete against these high level teams so hopefully, we can pick up some wins there and get some confidence.”
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @cecilhurt