Many college basketball players begin playing at a young age. Sophomore Anthony Longpré didn’t. In fact, he didn’t pick up the game until he was 12 or 13.
Longpré grew up playing football, but his mom suggested he try a new sport since he sustained multiple concussions over the years. Basketball seemed like a natural transition for one reason: he was tall. He had been tall from a young age, so he was used to others suggesting he play basketball. Why not give it a try?
The 6-foot-10 forward spent his freshman year of high school in his native Canada, but, at his coach’s suggestion, decided to move to the United States, where he would get more exposure as a player. His coach knew a lot of American coaches who would be interested in Longpré joining their program, and Longpré decided Glenelg Country School in Howard County, Maryland, was the best option.
“There were a couple schools [recruiting me], but some schools were on the West Coast,” Longpré said. “I wasn’t ready to go that far from my family yet, so Maryland seemed like a good idea. It was about a 12-hour drive, and my parents came to visit a lot.”
Glenelg Country is about 600 miles from Longpré’s hometown of L’Assomption, Quebec. If he was homesick at all during his three years in Maryland, it didn’t impact his game.
Longpré was a three-time Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association All-Star and was named the 2017 Howard County Times Co-Player of the Year. He also scored over 1,000 points in his career, averaged double-figure points per game each season, and averaged a double-double his junior year.
Definitely the kind of exposure his former coach wanted Longpré to receive. Not surprisingly, his success caught the attention of numerous college programs.
“I had a lot of offers, but I cut it down to my top five,” Longpré said. “It was St. Joe’s, George Washington, Princeton, Washington State, and Kansas State. I had the best relationship with the St. Joe’s coaches, so I decided to come here… I came on my official visit and I had a great time, so I committed the week after my visit.”
The summer before his freshman year, Longpré was named to the Canadian National U19 Team. Longpré was thrilled to be on the team, although there wasn’t much time to revel in the accomplishment. Just a few days after tryouts ended, the team traveled to France to prepare for the upcoming FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup in Cairo, Egypt.
The rapid succession of tryouts, exhibition games, and the World Cup didn’t bother Longpré or his teammates, though. Team Canada won its first-ever gold medal with a 79-60 victory over Italy.
“I have no words for it,” Longpré said of the victory. “The lights started flashing, and they dropped stuff from the ceiling. It was crazy. Everyone was jumping around. I don’t know how to describe it. It was awesome.”
Playing for his national team gave Longpré more than a gold medal. The quick transition from tryouts to playing with his new teammates helped him learn to adapt to new players and styles of play without hesitation.
It coincided perfectly with Longpré’s first year with the Hawks. Although he had much more time to get used to his college teammates, Longpré adapted right off the bat, always trying to make the team better.
His adaptability paid off, and he made his collegiate debut as a starter in the Hawks’ season opener at Toledo. Longpré started 21 of 32 games while averaging 4.3 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 17.3 minutes per game. With his rookie season under his belt, he spent the offseason focusing on getting stronger.
“I’m one of the biggest guys on the team, so I always have to guard the big men on the [other] teams,” Longpré said. “So, I definitely put a lot of work into the weight room and got a lot stronger.”
Longpré also focused on building up his confidence on the court, particularly shooting the ball more and getting used to playing with new Hawks as well as redshirt junior Lamarr Kimble and redshirt sophomore Charlie Brown, Jr., both of whom were sidelined by injuries during the 2017-18 season.
So, how are the offseason adjustments working out for Longpré?
“This year, I’m definitely not as tired on the court,” Longpré said. “I can guard bigger guys and I’m getting more physical in the paint… I’m more of a big guy that does the small things, like I play defense, I get rebounds, I set screens for the guys, and I just play hard.”
Longpré isn’t sure if he’ll play for Team Canada again. He isn’t sure what life after college holds. Right now, all that matters is his St. Joe’s career and helping create the best team possible.