ASHLAND, Va. — Even if he’s not the best player on the basketball team, a point guard is usually a natural leader.
Randolph-Macon head coach Josh Merkel has both in senior Buzz Anthony.
And Merkel saw it coming before he ever stepped onto the Ashland campus.
“We thought he’d be great. Didn’t think he’d be that great as early as he did. I didn’t envision sophomore year being the player of the year. That’s a testament to his work ethic, his grit, Merkel said.
Anthony’s accomplishments are almost embarrassing to recite:
- Three-time ODAC player of the year
- Three-time All-American
- Three-time First Team All-Conference
Anthony, a native of Arnold, Maryland, believes in truth over harmony and will regularly tell teammates exactly what he thinks of their effort or lack thereof, regardless of hurt feelings or egos.
“One of his best qualities is being honest, being real even when it’s not the most easy thing to hear,” teammate David Funderburg said. “He’ll still say it because it will lead me into growth and being a better version of myself.”
Lack of effort, physicality, and just not giving 100 percent trigger Anthony the most, his coach said.
“I think I’m pretty good with the truth and confrontation,” Anthony said. “I’ve been growing with the follow-up of the next day, let’s get lunch. I love you, this is why I said it, and moving forward.”
He’s also become very good at concealing his given name.
“You’re going to have to ask him. Sworn to secrecy,” Funderburg said.
His parents both had “B” as a nickname, for different reasons.
“They connected on it and said two Bs make a buzz. That was the story they gave me. They kept Connor thinking I would grow up and not like the Buzz name but I loved it,” Anthony said.
He also loved being in the gym.
Outside of games and regular practice, Anthony gravitated towards the court no matter the day or the hour. He used any time he had to improve his game.
Anthony once constructed a makeshift opponent out of a chair, a water jug, and a trashcan to simulate a taller defender over which to shoot and improve his range.
“So it was this seven and a half foot tall defender to contest his shot as he’s going from seated in a chair to standing up getting a shot. That’s his creative mind,” Funderburg said.
“He is so engaged in every single play. He will coach everything. He loves it that much. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen,” Coach Merkel said.
One of Anthony’s most selfless acts almost went unseen.
When COVID kept some of the team managers away from Crenshaw Gym last year, the team’s laundry started to pile up.
So during his solitary workouts, Anthony would run to the washers and dryers and personally take care of his teammates’ jerseys.
While it served a purpose for the entire team, it’s what it did for Anthony that made it such an important gesture.
“Guys were just complaining about not having stuff like we usually did. I would always come in here and work out anyway so it really wasn’t a huge thing,” Anthony said. “I would just throw it in, work out and change it. It was really good for my journey to be able to put into action what I wanted to be about and who I wanted to be.”
“Buzz is like, I want to humble myself and be a servant to others,” Funderburg said. “That was an easy way he saw he could do that, just by doing the laundry for the team.”
Add up these examples and you will have an individual who will naturally lead and compel others to follow. Those who know him as a player have no doubt as to what kind of coach he will eventually be.
“He’ll do what he has to do to win,” Funderburg said. “That’s on the court during the game and that’s everything you don’t see on the court. Putting the hours in before. Absolute beast.”
“He’s a winner,” his coach added. “I know he can communicate well and he’s been on a great journey with his leadership. I’m excited to see what he does.”