Apparently, Anthony Wilkins’ app game is pretty strong. That’s one reason (among several) why a colleague is so high on Wilkins, hired last week by Georgia Tech and coach Josh Pastner as an assistant coach.
Recently, Wilkins, then still working for Tulane, crossed paths with Andy Fox, who is the director of operations at Louisiana Tech but previously was an assistant coach with Wilkins at Tulane. Wilkins showed Fox an app for organizing prospects’ contact information, which he had stuffed with numbers and email addresses for the prospects, their parents, their coaches and so on.
It was evidence, Fox said, of Wilkins’ organizational skill, his willingness to learn and his competitiveness.
“He’s going to believe in, ‘Hey, if I get more organized than anybody else, it’s going to pay off, because I already know I’m going to outwork them,’” Fox told the AJC.
Compared with many of his ACC colleagues, the 37-year-old Wilkins comes to Tech with scant coaching experience. He has coached at the college level for four years, all at Tulane, with one year as director of operations and another as a player-development director at Kent State, his alma mater. By comparison, Josh Pastner’s original staff – Tavaras Hardy, Darryl LaBarrie and Eric Reveno – averaged 16 years of coaching at the Division I level before coming to Tech.
Despite that relative inexperience, Fox sees a quick learner with a diverse skillset along with ties to Atlanta.
“I think he’s really, really good,” Fox said.
Wilkins lived in Atlanta as a child and attended Therrell High for two years before moving to Cleveland. He played at Kent State (he was a junior on the Golden Flashes’ Elite Eight team in 2002), then played professionally for six years internationally and in the NBA’s D League (now called the G League). In 2011, he helped found the Stackhouse Elite AAU team in Atlanta with friend and former NBA star Jerry Stackhouse. In 2012, returned to Kent State to complete his degree and serve as player development director, then left for Tulane a year later.
“I think he’s going to be really successful, because I think he’s going to learn from Josh, he’s going to learn from Eric,” Fox said. “He’s going to be able to adapt really, really well.”
Stan Heath coached Wilkins at Kent State in the Elite Eight season. Heath, now the coach of the Lakeland Magic in the G League and the father of former Tech point guard Josh Heath, recalled a player who was passionate about the game and determined to improve to play professionally.
“I think he’s a great hire for Josh, I really do,” Heath said.
The two have connected occasionally since their time at Kent State, and Heath recognizes in Wilkins a skill for connecting with people. When Josh was a junior at Tech in the 2015-16 season, the Yellow Jackets played Tulane (with Wilkins on the staff) in New Orleans. Before the game, Wilkins made a point to pull aside and encourage Heath, who was going through an up-and-down season.
“It was just something that he didn’t have to do it,” Stan Heath said. “He just went out of his way and maybe tried to push a button for Josh.”
Fox saw the same trait in Wilkins’ willingness to invest in Tulane players off the court, whether it was getting together for a meal or watching game video.
“I’ve probably worked with 25 or 30 different guys that were assistant coaches,” Fox said. “I don’t know that I’ve seen anybody more committed (to spending time with players).”
Fox had plenty more to say about Wilkins – high attention to detail in scouting reports, a diverse and flexible approach to coaching offense (which he’ll be responsible for at Tech) and a relentless work ethic (“he’s going to live in the office,” Fox said). He made the observation that, in recruiting, Wilkins “values toughness over everything.”
Among players he recruited to Tulane was former Tech guard Justin Moore, who signed with Tulane before he was released following a coaching change. He said the areas that Wilkins recruited most were New Orleans, Cleveland, Chicago and Atlanta.
“I’m biased because I think he’s one of the best guys I’ve ever worked with, but he’s good,” Fox said.