NBA’s Cole Anthony helping next generation of top New York City-area players thrive on and off the court

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Orlando Magic guard Cole Anthony (left) with New York City area high school players at Gauchos Gym in the South Bronx.

Last week, some of the area’s top high school players convened at Gauchos Gym for a workout. A couple of NBA players were on hand as well.

It’s not unusual to see this kind of talent at Gauchos Gym.

If you played at a high level and you’re from the tri-state area, there’s a good chance that you competed for – or against – a Gauchos team on their home court.

Many local college and pro players work out there in the offseason. But there was something unique about the scene at the South Bronx gym last week: executives from Morgan Stanley’s Global Sports and Entertainment Group were on the court.

They weren’t there to play pickup; the Morgan Stanley execs were at Gauchos Gym on behalf of Cole Anthony.

Anthony hosted an event last Thursday called ‘The Playbook.’ He invited some of the area’s elite high school players, their parents, top financial minds from Morgan Stanley and high-level trainers to the gym. The Playbook had a distinct purpose: helping the next generation of top New York City-area players thrive on and off the court in basketball’s complex financial landscape.

“I feel like I’d be doing these kids an injustice if I didn’t try to leave my mark and help,” Anthony said. “I know it’s rough out there, I know a lot of these kids [and their parents] are going on this path blind…. It’s a difficult journey for people at every level. I felt like it was a duty for us to do our part and help out, even a little bit.”

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Orlando Magic guard Cole Anthony (center right) speaking on a panel at Gauchos Gym in the South Bronx.

Orlando Magic guard Cole Anthony (center right) speaking on a panel at Gauchos Gym in the South Bronx. / @capturedbymikee

The event featured an hour-long discussion about the financial aspects of the game, including NIL, budgeting and tax implications.

Four Morgan Stanley execs – Ahkiel White, Michael Brathwaite, John Griffin and Stephen Elmore – talked to the players and their parents about different basketball-adjacent financial concepts. Anthony was also on the panel, sharing aspects of his financial experience in the NBA.

“Ultimately, it’s about equipping these talented individuals and other young and emerging talent with … the necessary skills, knowledge and resources they need to make confident, smart and empowered financial decisions,” says Sandra L. Richards, Head of Morgan Stanley Global Sports and Entertainment.

“Exposing this group to these important conversations and providing them with an outlet to engage and ask questions about others’ perspectives that have gone through similar lived experiences as them, combined with fundamentals of financial education, is the first step.”

Anthony’s group had worked with the Morgan Stanley department on past events with his charity, 50Ways Foundation. They partnered together to support the 2022 Empire Invitational, which provided aid to underprivileged New York City-area kids. After the success of that event, Anthony and his manager, Bryce Council and NYC basketball brand Empire Invitational approached Morgan Stanley with their ideas for The Playbook.

It was an easy yes, Richards says.

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“Cole’s passion and buy-in, given his own career path and perspective as a NYC area product turned NBA player, was icing on the cake,” Richards says. “And our shared commitment to giving back and empowering the next generation following a similar path to Cole was a perfect fit.”

In addition to finances, the players heard from trainer Geo Baker about NIL deals and the importance of being selective with brands players work with. They also got on the court with Anthony, Baker and trainers Kenneth “Gucc” Robinson, Garson Grant and trainer and Gauchos program director Emmanuel “Book” Richardson.

“We just wanted to make sure that these kids are equipped to handle life, whether it’s on the court or off the court,” Council says. “We wanted to give them a little bit of everything.”

Many NBA players host camps and events in the offseason.

Sometimes those camps are one-offs with a gym full of campers. They’ve paid a significant fee to be there. The NBA player participates in some drills with the kids, takes pictures, signs some autographs and calls it a day.

Anthony obviously had little interest in this format. His event had a deeper purpose.

“I just want to extend the olive branch and be a resource and let them know that I’m here,” Anthony said of the high school players. “I’ve been through what ya’ll been through. I seen everything ya’ll have seen. If you have questions, I’m here.”

Anthony, of course, is one of the most decorated New York City players in recent memory. He was MVP of the McDonald’s Game, Jordan Brand Classic and Nike Hoop Summit. He was named to USA Today’s All-USA first team. As the son of 11-year veteran Greg Anthony, Cole had direct access to someone who had been through the peaks and valleys of high-level basketball. But he didn’t have anyone who played in New York City to lean on.

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“I didn’t really have an older kid who was going down the same path as me, who looked out for me. Tried to show me the way. Or tried to give me a few pointers, whether it’s, ‘Let’s get in the gym together’ or whatever,” Anthony said.

That was part of Anthony’s motivation in organizing The Playbook. He credits Council for making the event a reality. It’s one of many aspects of youth development that his charity engages in. Anthony and his mother, Crystal McRary McGuire, developed an app, Game Up, that helps pair young players with trainers and development programs.

It’s clear from the above that Anthony cares deeply about the younger generation.

After the success of The Playbook last week, Anthony wants to make the event an annual part of the calendar for local players.

“We hope to do this for many years,” he said. “….I kind of found my own way [as a young player in New York City]. And now I want to do my part and try to help these kids out, try to answer questions, try to be a pseudo big brother figure for them.”

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