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Roman Catholic's Anthony Finkley finds college home at St. Joe's

06/20/2022, 3:45pm EDT
By Joseph Santoliquito

By Joseph Santoliquito (@JSantoliquito)
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On Monday afternoon, Anthony Finkley, Roman Catholic’s 6-foot-7, 230-pound rising senior forward, gave Saint Joseph’s University basketball coach Billy Lange a call to tell him he’s committing to the Hawks.

Lange made his approval very clear on the other end of the phone.

“It was pretty cool. Coach Lange yelled when I told him I was going,” Finkley said.

On Friday, Finkley let everyone else know his decision when he made it public on social media.

Finkley chose St. Joe’s over Marquette, Penn State and Fairfield.

He said a big factor was the family atmosphere at St. Joe’s, and he trusted the coaching staff, with Lange, and assistant coaches Justin Scott and John Linehan.  

“I just felt the time was right and I really liked the relationship coach Justin and coach Billy had with my uncle, Brian Samuels, who played for Simon Gratz and Rutgers,” Finkley said. “St. Joe’s is the right choice for me. I didn’t see a reason that I had to wait to commit, so it helps to take a lot of stress off my shoulders.”


Roman Catholic's Anthony Finkley brings the ball up Sunday at Philly Live I. (Photo: Josh Velrin/CoBL)

Finkley did not play at all last season.

He got stuck in the transfer vortex. He says he’s happy now that he’s found a college basketball home, after looking for a home for his basketball skills last fall.

In September 2021, it looked as if he was going to stay at West Catholic, when he surprisingly opted to transfer to national prep powerhouse Huntington Prep, in Huntington, West Virginia. Before the year was over, Finkley was back in the Philadelphia area, transferring into Roman Catholic in January 2022.

The rangy Finkley averaged around 4 points, 3 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots a game as a sophomore at West Catholic. Last summer, the Burrs were running their offense through him, a high-responsibility role considering the Watson twins, Kaseem and Kareem, and Zion Stanford were there.

Finkley would often show flashes of brilliance, then disappear in previous summers. Though last summer, he opened eyes. He turned into a player who was raising eyebrows on the recruiting circuit.

His play garnered offers from Rutgers, La Salle, St. Joe’s, DePaul, UMBC and Marquette.

Stability is a key for Finkley and he feels that he found it under Lange at St. Joe’s.

“I think this is great for Anthony because he bounced around a little and found that security that he knows is here at Roman and now going to St. Joe’s,” said Roman coach Chris McNesby. “Anthony can focus on being the best player he can be. I’m happy for him and he deserves it. He can focus on getting better, and his best days are ahead of him.”


Roman Catholic's Anthony Finkley brings the ball up Sunday at Philly Live I. (Photo: Josh Velrin/CoBL)

McNesby got a chance to watch and coach Finkley in practices last season — just not in games.

“Anthony practiced with us last year, but there was only so much we could do in game preparation,” McNesby said. “He was great to have on the scout team. He’s a very skilled player, with great court vision. You would think with someone his size, he wouldn’t be a very good facilitator. He’s an excellent passer. He really sees the game two plays ahead. I think that’s what St. Joe’s sees.

“He reminds of a (high school) Draymond Green or like Villanova’s Kris Jenkins. He doesn’t need the ball to help his team win.”

St. Joe’s, Finkley said, is looking at him as a stretch three.

“I want to show people that I’m a leader this summer and I want to show my versatility in space,” Finkley said. “I’m more confident in myself, and I believe you can see when someone is confident in their game. I’ll try to bring my game out a little more and I’m working on my shot.”

The Hawks have not had a winning record since the 2015-16 season, which is also the last time they played in the NCAA Tournament, reaching the second round, when they went 28-8 under future Big 5 Hall of Fame coach Phil Martelli. 

Lange will be entering his fourth season as head coach of the Hawks, who have gone 6-26, 5-15, and 11-19 under him.

Lange’s coaching staff includes John Griffin III, Scott, and Linehan, who all have strong local ties to Philadelphia area hoops, though in March, the Hawks’ best player, 6-7 sophomore guard Jordan Hall, opted to sign with an agent and forgo his college eligibility.

“I’m looking to play right away, but before I go to college. I want to reshape my body and add more muscle,” Finkley said. “I’m a Philly kid, I want to be defined as a hard-nosed Philly kid and the most important thing is that I’m happy.  

“The (Huntington Prep) decision kind of came out of blue, it was a decision my mom (Karen Samuels) made for me to be in a better environment. It was the first time I was away from home. It didn’t work out and I’m home. And I get to play my college basketball at home.”

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Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who began writing for CoBL in 2021 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on Twitter here.


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