It’s uncommon to see younger basketball gamers take inspiration from somebody they grew up with. However for sophomore ahead Ryan Agarwal, it’s not tough to seek out inspiration amongst buddies — his childhood good friend, Anthony Black, was chosen with the sixth total decide within the 2023 NBA draft.
Black “impressed me to comprehend it’s doable [to reach the NBA],” Agarwal mentioned. “I’m gonna meet him [there] someday for certain.”
Since center college, the 2 have shared the identical court docket, taking part collectively on college and AAU groups.
However the two first encountered one another as rivals, going in opposition to one another in AAU basketball once they had been in elementary college within the Dallas-Fort Value metro space.
“We used to play in opposition to one another in AAU on a regular basis,” Agarwal mentioned. “His crew was approach higher than my crew and they’d at all times crush us. I sort of knew him by that however we weren’t shut in any respect.”
After Agarwal moved to Black’s college district, the 2 went to center college collectively and performed collectively on the college crew. It was at this level when the connection between each gamers grew stronger.
“I really feel like once we actually obtained shut was seventh grade,” Agarwal mentioned. “I moved over to his AAU crew after mine disbanded. We began hooping collectively at school and AAU for the subsequent 4 to 5 years.”
By enjoying collectively on 3D Empire, a Dallas-based AAU program, and with the steerage of head coach Shawn Ward, the 2 constructed an impeccable chemistry on the court docket.
“It was very easy to play with Ryan due to how nicely he shot the ball and the way nicely I cross the ball,” Black mentioned. “We’d discover one another for lobs, backdoor cuts as we obtained older. It’s all the straightforward stuff you get from having good chemistry.”
Clint Schnell, Agarwal and Black’s coach at Coppell Excessive College, famous that each shared a aggressive drive that additionally introduced them collectively.
“What made Ryan and Anthony gel so nicely on the court docket was their aggressive nature,” wrote Schnell in an electronic mail. “They every had a robust want to win and do what it takes to achieve success and that commonality between them was a robust bond.”
Off-the-court, the connection between the 2 six-foot-seven rivals grew on account of the time spent collectively at practices.
“Plenty of athletes are completely different individuals on-the-court to off-the-court, however Anthony’s just about the identical man,” Agarwal mentioned. “He’s a extremely chill man, not taking something too significantly, and an incredible teammate.”
Whereas the 2 basketball gamers shared journeys to Vegas and different thrilling experiences, each teammates cited automobile rides as a time the place they obtained to bond essentially the most.
“We used to experience to high school collectively,” Black mentioned. “So these rides to the highschool video games or grabbing one thing to eat earlier than the sport had been actually satisfying.”
“Our AAU practices had been initially 20 minutes from the place me and Anthony lived, however due to COVID we needed to change gyms so it turned a forty five minute experience,” Agarwal mentioned. “Anthony, me and two of our teammates would carpool to observe and we’d get residence fairly late. However these drives had been essentially the most enjoyable drives as a result of realizing we’re performed with observe we had been simply chilling. We’d at all times cease by the 7/11 gasoline station and hearken to music.”
As each gamers progressed by highschool, every noticed a fast rise in recognition from Division I coaches as they turned upperclassmen. By the trials of navigating recruiting, each Agarwal and Black appreciated having one another as they went by the method.
“It was wonderful going from being a thin freshman in ninth grade after which having coaches come watch us at practices,” Agarwal mentioned. “It was good as a result of in some methods, we each obtained publicity from one another. Plenty of coaches that got here to observe him began recruiting me as a result of they began seeing me once they got here to recruit me. In the identical approach, coaches that got here to see me began recruiting AB [Anthony Black] as nicely.”
In accordance with Black, the 2 high-school teammates went on a number of faculty visits collectively, together with a go to to in-state college Texas A&M.
“We sort of each discovered the recruiting course of from one another,” Black mentioned. “It was good having one among my greatest buddies and teammates undergo the identical factor as me.”
Ultimately, each gamers went their separate paths for school, with Agarwal selecting Stanford and Black suiting up for the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Final season, Agarwal shot an environment friendly 50% from the sector and 45.7% from the three-point line whereas showing in 17 video games.
In the meantime, Black averaged 12.8 factors, 5.1 rebounds and three.9 assists per recreation for Arkansas, serving to the Razorbacks advance to the Candy 16 for the third straight season.
Following his standout season, Black declared for the NBA draft and was later chosen with the No. 6 total decide by the Orlando Magic. It got here as no shock that Agarwal was glued to the TV, because the NBA commissioner referred to as out Black’s identify.
“It’s one thing you dream of,” Agarwal mentioned. “I used to be watching with my household and it was a proud second to observe him make it [to the next level]. Particularly having the ability to watch somebody that you just grew up with and see how a lot work they put in to do it.”
Whereas being an NBA participant or a student-athlete at Stanford doesn’t go away a lot free time, the 2 nonetheless keep involved once they can.
“We had been watching the Cowboys recreation and speaking,” Black mentioned. “We talked about hoops, Stanford, the Magic and a few soccer. So it’s at all times good to remain involved with a man like that.”
“It’s undoubtedly laborious to maintain staying in contact, however I texted him the opposite day and he let me know in regards to the [NBA] way of life and the way it’s like residing on his personal,” Agarwal mentioned. “We each know we’re tremendous busy, but it surely’s a kind of friendships the place you see one another and it’s proper again the place we left off.”