North Carolina freshman point guard Cole Anthony will miss four-to-six weeks after undergoing an arthroscopic procedure to repair a partially torn meniscus in his right knee, the program announced on Tuesday. Anthony missed UNC's game over the weekend -- a to Wofford -- due to the knee injury.
"Obviously not having a player of Cole's caliber will be a tremendous challenge to our young team, but we have to play," UNC coach Roy Williams said in a statement. "No one player is going to replace the production Cole Anthony gives us, so it's up to everyone who puts on a North Carolina jersey to raise his game and help our team play better."
Anthony leads UNC with 19.1 points and 3.6 assists per game this season and ranks fourth among all ACC players in scoring. In the Tar Heels' only game without him this season, which came against Wofford, UNC shot just 36.5% from the field and 31.6% from the 3-point line. The Tar Heels' 64 points scored in the loss were tied for the third-fewest single-game scoring output all season.
Arthroscopic procedures are minimally invasive and generally routine for athletes. Last year, Russell Westbrook underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his right knee and returned a month later. Former Nets and current Warriors guard D'Angelo Russell underwent a similar arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in 2017, and missed roughly two months.
The sooner the return, the better for North Carolina, which has been relying heavily upon Anthony's production this season. In his star-studded freshman season, Anthony has emerged as a clear-cut contender for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Even missing weeks -- or months -- likely won't hurt his draft stock, assuming he has no complications and the knee injury does not longer.
North Carolina is 6-4 on the season and riding a three-game losing streak with losses in four of its last five games. It faces No. 2 Gonzaga on Wednesday before finishing off the calendar year with games against UCLA and Yale. ACC play resumes Jan. 4 against Georgia Tech for the Tar Heels.