Photo: Marco Garcia/AP
The pressure that college basketball players feel comes from everywhere. Whether it is from coaches, family, a rabid fan base, what is supposed to be a game can break anyone not prepared for it. The pressure can become even more amplified if you choose to play your college basketball in the same city where you starred as a high school player. Expectations rise quickly and if you fail to meet them, you are sure to hear about it. Anthony Marshall knows exactly what the challenge feels like.
After graduating from Mojave High School in Las Vegas, Marshall decided to stay home and continue his college basketball career at UNLV. “Playing at UNLV definitely brought up mixed emotions,” explained Marshall. “There was so much pressure because of the rich basketball tradition.” The better part of it started to show to Marshall as he played out his career. “I basked in the pressure; all eyes were on us in Las Vegas,” said Marshall. “I really enjoyed the opportunity to play there and help restore the program back to the national spotlight.”
With the pressure, Marshall also received the benefits of playing for a tradition-rich program. “I learned how to be a leader,” Marshall said. “I was a quiet kid in high school, and would usually just lead by example, by going out and showing what needs to be done.” Marshall learned quickly that the same approach would not work in college. “I had to be more vocal as a leader,” Marshall remarked. “Not everyone responds to the same leadership style, so I had to speak up. The main thing was to never back down from a challenge.”
Marshall was able to see his growth extend to his personal life as well. “Having the opportunity to give back to the community and to do a lot of different things there helped me mature,” said Marshall. “I entered UNLV a boy and I am leaving a man.”
Senior year was set up to be Marshall’s time to shine. He was making the move to point guard full-time, and the team was stocked with talent at most positions. However, the season forced Marshall to keep making adjustments. “There were a lot of ups and downs,” Marshall said. “We were a young team with a lot of freshmen and sophomores. I had to learn to be patient and deal with different situations; adjusting to staying at the same level through the good and the bad.”
Marshall handled the point guard position well, leading UNLV into the NCAA Tournament and averaging 10 points, 4 rebounds and 6 assists per game, while increasing his shooting percentages and playing tough defense.
With his college career over, Marshall is focused on showing NBA teams what he is capable of. “I showed this year that I am capable of handling the point guard position,” Marshall explained. “I can guard both guard positions, and my jumper has improved.” Marshall believes he is also capable of bringing intangibles to a team at the next level. “My leadership has improved, and I will play hard regardless of the situation. I am tough, a competitor and will give my all.”
Marshall knows he still has a lot of work to do, and he has plans on working to be the best player he can. “I need to continue to work on my overall game,” said Marshall. “Passing, shooting, defense can always be worked on. The great thing about basketball is you can never be perfect. There is always something new you can to learn to get better.”
The Portsmouth Invitational Tournament for seniors was last week and Marshall was invited to compete in front of a gym full of NBA scouts and executives. “It was a great experience to get together and play with so many great players,” Marshall said. “It gives you a chance to go out and compete and have fun. Winning was important though; I want to win every time I am on the court.”
Marshall believed he has showed and will continue to show that there is a role for him at the next level. “I think I can come in and defend multiple positions,” Marshal mused. “I can bring a spark; bring energy whenever I get a chance on the court. Even if it means being the guy cheering on the bench, teams need that kind of energy too.”
All of what has come before him has prepared him for what is ahead. “I can be tough on both ends of the court,” said Marshall. “I’m not afraid to play with the big boys. I hate to lose and love to win. Whatever a team needs me to do, I am ready to do it.”
Marshall has faced the pressure before and succeeded. Don’t count him out from doing it again.
Follow me on Twitter - @NBADraftBlog