RIVERDALE, Md. — Anton Harrison was more known for playing football, and he was only two weeks removed from playing on junior varsity basketball team at Archbishop Carroll High School.
But that didn’t stop the six-foot-five Harrison from having a breakout performance in the team’s 82-68 win over Friendship Tech High Prep Academy in the DMV Winter Classic at Parkdale High School last weekend.
Carroll head coach Michael Powell said he knew that the sophomore forward was ready to make the transition from playing football to taking over a game with the basketball in his hands.
“He is a big-time football recruit for us, but … a conversation with him to see if he wanted to move up to varsity must have worked well,” Powell said of Harrison. “We knew he could do it being a tremendous athlete, so it was just giving him the opportunity to convince him that he could do it. He started to believe in himself, and when he came out he showed what could do; he can play.”
Despite holding five football recruitment offers from the likes of Penn State University and the University of Maryland, Harrison said that he’d have to consider playing basketball at the collegiate level now after his dominant performance. He said UM and Morgan State University have each since reached out to him to see if he’d be interested in playing both sports for their respective programs in the future.
Harrison was named the MVP in Saturday’s win after scoring 24 points and snaring 15 rebounds.
“It felt good,” he said. “Working with junior varsity before, I wasn’t taking basketball as serious, but now I can see what I can do finally. It’s been great, everyone thinks we are heading for the bottom, but we are going to the top.”
However, Friendship Tech (15-3) looked like the team to beat early, leading for the majority of the first quarter. But Carroll would eventually take control of the game before the half behind Harrison, who backed down and muscled his way through would-be defenders en route to 12 first-half points, including a circus shot in the final seconds of the second quarter as the Lions went into the locker room with an 11-point lead.
Friendship Tech attempted to make a game of it in the second half, led by senior guard Kenneth Tyree, who finished the game with 31 points, but the Lions pulled away and never looked back. Carroll finished the third period with a 12-point lead and a monster dunk by Harrison in the waning seconds of the game put an exclamation point on the team’s 11th win of the season.
“Defense is the foundation of what we do,” Powell said of his team’s success as of late. “Guarding people and stopping people is the staple of Carroll basketball. We are in the middle of the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference now, we’ve been playing everyone tough, but we are young. My goal is to play our best basketball in February.”