It’s uncommon to see younger basketball gamers take inspiration from somebody they grew up with. However for sophomore ahead Ryan Agarwal, it isn’t troublesome to search out inspiration amongst pals — his childhood good friend, Anthony Black, was chosen with the sixth total choose within the 2023 NBA draft.
Black “impressed me to realize it’s doable [to reach the NBA],” Agarwal mentioned. “I’m gonna meet him [there] at some point for certain.”
Since center faculty, the 2 have shared the identical courtroom, collaborating collectively on faculty and AAU groups.
However the two first encountered one another as rivals, going in opposition to one another in AAU basketball after they had been in elementary faculty within the Dallas-Fort Price metro space.
“We used to play in opposition to one another in AAU on a regular basis,” Agarwal mentioned. “His group was method higher than my group and they might at all times crush us. I type of knew him by way of that however we weren’t shut in any respect.”
After Agarwal moved to Black’s faculty district, the 2 went to center faculty collectively and performed collectively on the varsity group. 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 group after mine disbanded. We began hooping collectively in class and AAU for the following 4 to 5 years.”
By means of 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 courtroom.
“It was very easy to play with Ryan due to how effectively he shot the ball and the way effectively I go the ball,” Black mentioned. “We might 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 effectively on the courtroom was their aggressive nature,” wrote Schnell in an e-mail. “They every had a robust need 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 because of the time spent collectively at practices.
“Quite a lot of athletes are completely different folks 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 trip 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 gratifying.”
“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 grew to become a forty five minute trip,” 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 understanding we’re finished with observe we had been simply chilling. We might at all times cease by the 7/11 fuel station and hearken to music.”
As each gamers progressed by way of highschool, every noticed a fast rise in recognition from Division I coaches as they grew to become upperclassmen. By means of the trials of navigating recruiting, each Agarwal and Black appreciated having one another as they went by way of the method.
“It was superb 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. Quite a lot of coaches that got here to observe him began recruiting me as a result of they began seeing me after they got here to recruit me. In the identical method, coaches that got here to see me began recruiting AB [Anthony Black] as effectively.”
Based on Black, the 2 high-school teammates went on a couple of faculty visits collectively, together with a go to to in-state faculty Texas A&M.
“We type of each discovered the recruiting course of from one another,” Black mentioned. “It was good having considered one of my finest pals and teammates undergo the identical factor as me.”
Finally, 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 sphere 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 choose by the Orlando Magic. It got here as no shock that Agarwal was glued to the TV, because the NBA commissioner known as out Black’s title.
“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 with the ability to watch somebody that you simply 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 depart a lot free time, the 2 nonetheless keep involved after 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 arduous to maintain staying in contact, however I texted him the opposite day and he let me know concerning the [NBA] way of life and the way it’s like residing on his personal,” Agarwal mentioned. “We each know we’re tremendous busy, however it’s a kind of friendships the place you see one another and it’s proper again the place we left off.”