With COVID-19 abruptly ending the high school basketball season and careers of area seniors, we wanted to provide a series to honor some of those seniors whose dreams were cut short. We continue our 2020 Honor Series with a look at Harvest Prep super senior CJ Anthony.
For the complete series, check below:
Name: CJ Anthony
School: Harvest Preparatory School
Career Record: 98-12
Major Accomplishment: Central Ohio's all-time leading scorer with 2,395 points
Career-High: 46 points vs. Shelby Valley (KY) on Dec. 28, 2019
How would you describe CJ: Relentless. Unflappable. Tough. CJ is one of Central Ohio's all-time greats at the point guard position. Whether it's his 98 wins, his state title, his three district titles and what should have been three regional titles, CJ is as accomplished as anyone who has ever played the game in Columbus. CJ led Harvest Prep to a 49-1 record in the MSL-Cardinal over the course of his career, never losing on the road at any point. Over his last three seasons, CJ's Harvest Prep teams went 18-1 in the tournament with the lone loss coming in the state semifinals to Africentric in 2018.
Moment when I knew CJ was special: It was his freshman year. On the road in a banger of a game at Grove City Christian. GCC was the only team to beat Anthony in league play during his entire career, taking down the Warriors in a thriller earlier that year on Dec. 16, 2016. Anthony was held to six points in that loss, but the skinny freshman (this is funny now considering CJ is built like a mack truck) got his revenge in the return match. denying GCC of a league title by scoring 21 big points in a huge 77-68 victory in front of a packed crowd that was hoping to see a sweep of the Warriors. That was the birth of CJ being a big-time player in the area, as he was just getting started in cementing his legacy.
CJ’s One Shining Moment: While his greatest team accomplishment is most certainly the state title that Anthony helped power Harvest Prep to in 2019.
That's the moment that most will think of, however, I don't think I've ever seen CJ more locked in than he was in this year's Division III district final against Worthington Christian. Despite being the No. 2 seed, Worthington Christian jumped into Harvest Prep's bracket, looking to knock off the defending state champions and head to a navigable Athens regional.
CJ and Harvest Prep accepted the challenge, as the elder statesman Anthony led a young (and unproven) team into Alumni Hall at Ohio Dominican for what would be their biggest threat since the 2018 state tournament. In a game that felt like his 'Kobe' moment per se, Anthony (despite it not being his most efficient game by any stretch of the imagination), hit the shots, drew the fouls and got the defensive stops needed to overcome a 7-point deficit in the fourth quarter
Anthony's crowning moment came on the final possession of the game when the senior guard drew a widely controversial foul on a three-point shot, draining two of three free throws to put Harvest Prep up for good. Anthony finished with 23 points in the district final victory, hitting 16 free throws and helping a Harvest Prep team, that wasn't nearly as talented as its state championship squad from a year before, overcome a Worthington Christian squad that is likely to debut at No. 1 in the division next year.
That was even further confirmation that CJ is the ultimate winner and will do whatever it takes, even if it's not pretty, to power his team to victory. Anthony will end his high school career going out on top in back-to-back seasons, while maintaining a perfect 5-0 record in Athens regional games after knocking off Zane Trace in a semifinal matchup before the COVID-19 outbreak forced the cancellation of the tournament.
CJ's Plans for the Future: CJ is currently undecided on where he will play next year, although it's likely he will play a year of postgrad prep school basketball before heading off to college. No matter what Anthony does, we have no doubt that he will be successful, as he has won at every single level he's played on.