NBA Prospect Anthony Tarke is Turning Heads as a Two-Way Guard
It's been quite a while since anyone from Coppin State has been selected in the NBA Draft. You have to go back to 1976 when the Phoenix Suns drafted Joe Pace in the fifth round of the NBA Draft.
Now nearly 50 years later, Anthony Tarke is trying to make history for his school.
The former UTEP guard exploded among the mid-major ranks this past college basketball season. He has spent the summer participating in the NBA combine, going through pro workouts and joining basketball showcases to boost his stock.
Decision makers are starting to take notice of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Player of the Year and his abilities as a two-way basketball prospect. He has worked out with various NBA teams like the Suns, Timberwolves, Bulls, Warriors and Hawks ahead of the 2021 Draft on July 29.
Wednesday is the deadline for a player with college eligibility to rescind their name from being draft eligible, thus returning to college basketball. Even though he has been under the radar during this pre-draft period, Tarke's name as a prospect has been gaining notable momentum from NBA teams. Thus, he will forgo his college eligibility and maintain his pro basketball intentions.
"Based on the good feedback I’ve been given, this feels like the right time," said Tarke, who had just finished a workout in Phoenix. "I feel like I’m ready... The whole process has been incredible. Hundreds of NBA decision-makers watch you perform. It was my dream ever since I was growing up. I started playing at 13 but I’ve been watching since I was four years old. Being in this position—a lot of people wouldn’t have thought I would ever make it here."
His draft process started back in late March when he initially declared for the NBA Draft. Since then, he has been traveling to different cities to perform in front of scouts.
"They like my ability to defend and my basketball IQ. Being versatile on both sides is big for them," Tarke said about the positive things scouts are saying about his game.
The things he needs to work on? "Shooting. They want me to work on becoming a consistent shooter. I’m not a bad shooter, but trying to be a great shooter," he said.
He is right. He shot 47% from the floor at Coppin State and led the team in scoring at 16.4 points per game. However, his 3-point shooting (32.3%) has been a huge focus for him this offseason. Tarke's defensive game makes him an extremely intriguing prospect at the pro level. The 6-foot-6 guard averaged 1.6 blocks and 2.6 steals per game this past season.
Tarke, who left UTEP for Coppin State and before spent his first two years at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, said the Eagles and his head coach Juan Dixon helped to unlock his full potential as a two-way player.
"Third school is the charm," he chuckled. "I thought coming into college, I would be with the same institution the whole way through. But God has other plans. I was blessed to learn at every spot. I was blessed to get an opportunity to play at NJIT. Being at UTEP was a blessing. This past season at Coppin State, a major blessing."
He first made headlines after Coppin's season opener versus Duke on Nov. 28. Tarke and the Eagles went to the wire against Duke and ultimately lost, 81-71, but Tarke posted 22 points, nine rebounds, five steals and two blocks on national TV.
Against UNC Greensboro, Tarke also flashed his abilities with 33 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, four blocks and four steals in an 85-80 win.
"Those were the highlights of my season," Tarke said. "One was a loss, but it was a blessing to be in the game. Duke was [ranked] in the country, it was the first game of the year. They have guys that get drafted every year. Just to see my hard work and all that I put into the offseason pay off was a blessing."
Leaving UTEP was an easier decision for Tarke once he knew his brother Nendah Tarke, a freshman shooting guard, would be playing at Coppin. Nendah was named MEAC Rookie of the Year this past season playing alongside his brother.
"My brother is the main reason I went to Coppin," said Tarke. "He works hard like me, he thinks about the game like I do. He plays on and off-ball. Me and my brother would always play when we were younger and he would try to beat me. It was a great experience to play with him. He’s my favorite person to play with. Now he will lead that team."
He maintains that he holds the Miner fan base in his heart, especially some of the players that he is still close with today.
"Shout out to UTEP," Tarke said. "The fans and the support out there is really unmatched. They support that basketball team and they are great fans. They stuck by me through it all. I appreciate the support guys from that team gave me and the comradery. Me and Souley [Boum] are still the best of friends. Me and Bryson [Williams] are close too. They all tried to keep my head up during the points when I was down. There are two sides of basketball—playing and injuries. But it built basketball toughness in me that I kept with me going into Coppin State."
Basketball toughness is something that helped shape Tarke through these past two seasons. He felt like he needed to go through adversity in order to work toward his goal of becoming a pro basketball player. Tarke played in just 14 games sparingly for the Miners as a junior in 2019-20.
"God doesn’t make mistakes. When I say basketball toughness, I have been through a lot in my life," he said. "When you play the game and work at it, there is so much you can learn from the game."
So for now, Tarke will wrap up these next few weeks of intense workouts and key opportunities to shine in front of NBA personnel.
"[My] agent will let me know if it’s a second round possibility or a summer league deal. A lot can happen in three weeks," he said.
He's right. A lot can change in three weeks ahead of the NBA Draft.
"For those that believed in me, I’m blessed. Thank you. When you’re low, you really see who is there for you. I am blessed to have all of my supporters in my corner. Those that stuck with me during the lows got to see me shine during the highs." - Anthony Tarke, former UTEP basketball guard