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‘Most literally a dream come true’: Old-school guard Anthony Leal wants to help Indiana restore historic success

Indiana commit Anthony Leal is a little old-school for his age.

Anthony Leal in his home gym at Bloomington South. The senior is set to join Indiana Basketball next year. (Kurt Spitler/HN)

He shows it in his game, demeanor, quiet personality and even his pregame music selection.

“I don’t listen to all like the crazy, hype, mumble rap type stuff that most people do,” Leal said.  “It’s usually some chill type of music or some country music.”

Leal composes himself in a calmer manner on the court too. The four-star shooting guard and top-100 ranked prospect in the 2020 class doesn’t really display emotion or celebrate while on the court, he just does his thing and plays his game. He embodies toughness and prides himself on playing just as hard on defense as he does on the offensive end, even if scoring the ball is what comes naturally to him.

Leal is known for his impressive shooting ability, knocking down 41.9% of his shots from long range this past summer in AAU ball, but he is more than that. He has a good knack of finishing at the rim while also being able to play multiple positions. Naturally, with the ability to perform at a high level and being a versatile player, Leal has the talent to play at a program like Indiana. Beyond the talent, Leal fits perfectly on and off the court for the team he’s wanted to play for since an early age.

Leal has grown up and lived in Bloomington his whole life, and as a son of two IU alumni who currently work for the university, playing basketball for Indiana was always the goal.

“To be able to call myself a Hoosier, it’s most literally a dream come true,” Leal said.

Leal has all the intangibles to represent his home school well and could be a key piece in establishing the success and culture that Indiana head coach Archie Miller is aspiring to instill. For years, IU has strived to reclaim the winning pedigree it’s had in the past. Carrying over a winning pedigree to his college game is just one thing that an old-school player like Leal can offer when he becomes a Hoosier.

In three years at Bloomington South High School, he has won three sectional championships and eclipsed the 1,000 career points mark as a junior. For his AAU program, Indiana Elite, he has won multiple championships in the past three seasons, including a 48-1 record in his 2017 season.

It could be said that Leal’s old-school mindset come directly from the influence of his coach at Bloomington South High School, J.R. Holmes. Holmes is entering his 38th year at the school and 50th overall as a coach. Moreover, he is the all-time wins leader in Indiana state history with 667.

“It’s really special,” Leal said. “It’s a unique opportunity to be able to play for him and for a school like this.”

The local prospect is already in the process of building a strong relationship with his future head coach in Miller too.

“We’re to a point in our relationship where we’re pretty close,” Leal said. “We’re talking about things on the court, but also off the court, and I think that having that kind of relationship with my head coach is something that’s really special and valuable to me.”

Obviously, Miller was impressed enough by Leal’s talent to offer him a scholarship, but Leal will be a major help to the program off the court in something he wasn’t recruited for, his academics.

Anthony Leal. (Kurt Spitler/HN)

Leal is a standout in school just as he is in athletics, he has a 4.387 cumulative GPA. In a time of youth sports where tournaments and travel dictate young athletes’ demands, it’s a rarity to see a high-level prospect like Leal exceed equally in the classroom and on the court.

“Being able to balance when I do both (basketball and school) of them and just being able to stay on top of everything is something that’s really been emphasized through my whole life,” Leal said.

He doesn’t have a definite major decided yet, but he plans on studying in the Kelley School of Business when he enrolls at IU.

There is more to life than school and basketball for Leal though, he has his own escape from his daily grind.

“Whenever I’m not playing basketball or doing homework, I’m outside enjoying the weather and enjoying the environment,” Leal said.

Leal said he prefers to hike, ride his bike and kayak, or really do anything outdoors when he gets some free time. Leal is trying to broaden his horizons by learning the guitar, too.

When he puts it all in perspective, to Leal, the basketball talent and who is he as a person is secondary to the big picture. Leal wants to leave his mark on others.

He hopes that his role as a hometown kid turned Hoosier basketball player can do more in the long term for those in his community than any number of points scored, or games won in his basketball career.

“I hope at some point if I accomplish something at IU that I can be some type of inspiration for other kids like me,” Leal said.

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