The 24-year-old Ticino back is the first Swiss to be entered in the NBA draft, scheduled for the night of Thursday to Friday, since Clint Capela in 2014. Discovery interview.
Anthony, how does it feel to be a few hours away from the draft?
I’m really, really (He insists) happy. It’s been a dream since I was 4, it seems unreal. I am ready and eager.
You declared your candidacy at the beginning of April. How did you prepare?
After the end of the university season, I stayed at school for two or three weeks to work with my coaches. Then I went home for one or two days, before going to train in Las Vegas, there also for two to three weeks. Then I chained training sessions with interested NBA franchises: San Antonio, Washington, New York, Brooklyn and Philadelphia.
How did your workouts go?
Each team develops its own training. All last more or less an hour. Six players are invited per session. You start with a warm-up, you chain the oppositions and you finish by making 100 three-point shots.
Are there any “workouts” where you feel you have particularly shone?
All went well, but I felt particularly comfortable in Philadelphia and Brooklyn.
Since your profile interests several teams, do you have any idea where you could land?
I’m not going to know anything until the draft. But San Antonio and Philadelphia are ready to include me in their squad for the Summer League (editor’s note: a succession of friendly matches between NBA teams in the summer, a period when franchises usually test many players).
How would you describe your profile as a basketball player?
I am a “three and D” (editor’s note: term designating players specializing in defense and distance shooting). I see myself as a very good defender and a skilled three-point shooter. I also have this ability to attack the basket and impose myself physically. On the other hand, I have to progress in scoring when leaving the dribble.
You were born in Lugano and grew up in Switzerland until you were 15, when you left to pursue your career in the United States. Also having American parents, what relationship do you have with Switzerland?
This is my country, my home. When I have a vacation, I like to come back to see my friends and family. This summer, it’s too complicated with the draft but next year I would really like to play with the selection.
Your father, Michael Polite, also played at a good level and even went to the same university as you between 1988 and 1991. What did that bring you in your own construction?
He helps me all the time, shares his experience with me. When you have one of your parents who knows the game and you observe it every day since childhood, you develop faster than others. You naturally assimilate the requirements of a high-level athlete.
By the time you entered college, you had turned down more than 30 offers, including some from prestigious institutions. What tipped the scales in favor of Florida State?
The fact that my father was there played a role, of course, but during my visit, I felt the campus was totally different from the others. I didn’t know the players but it’s as if we were already brothers. My decision was easy to make.
In the United States, the style of play is much more physical and fast, at a younger age. During my first year, it was a bit hard but since then I haven’t had a problem. What helped me in Switzerland is that we acquire the fundamentals early on and we forge a high intelligence of the game. So when a coach adjusts to a match here, I adapt more easily.
For now, the predictions kick you out of the draft board. Even if there is the possibility of integrating a franchise without having been selected first, are you considering a plan B?
For now, I’m just thinking about the NBA. A lot of teams are interested and I know that I will at least play the Summer League. If that doesn’t work, it’s time to consider other options.