It’s hard to tell if College of Charleston senior guard Anthony Stitt is some kind of saint or just a glutton for punishment.
It’s been a tumultuous four seasons at the College of Charleston for Stitt, who has played for four head coaches in four years with the Cougars.
But even after all the coaching changes and turmoil within the program, there’s little that Stitt would change about his career at the College of Charleston. OK, maybe a few things. He didn’t get to experience winning a conference championship or playing in the NCAA Tournament, but he has never regretted his decision to play for the Cougars.
Stitt and senior teammates Adjehi Baru and Pat Branin will play their final home game at TD Arena on Saturday night against Northeastern.
When Stitt signed with the Cougars four years ago, the College of Charleston was a program that power conferences avoided like the plague. North Carolina, Clemson and Tennessee had been just a few of the Cougars’ victims under former head coach Bobby Cremins.
Cremins and Mark Byington recruited Stitt to Charleston. The Cougars had beaten out several more prominent suitors, including Clemson, for the services of the Charlotte native. But Cremins left midway through Stitt’s freshman season and Byington, who had been the Cougars’ interim coach during Cremins’ medical leave, didn’t get the head coaching job at the end of the year.
Doug Wojcik took over the program, led the Cougars to the Southern Conference tournament title game, but was fired two years later after allegations of verbal abuse surfaced. Then, Earl Grant took over in September, and the Cougars are going through one of their worst seasons in recent memory.
This was not what Stitt signed up for four years ago.
But through it all, the good times and the bad, Stitt has remained loyal to his college and its basketball program. If given the opportunity all over again, even knowing what he knows now, he admits he’d probably do it all over again.
“I fell in love with Charleston and the College of Charleston on my first visit here,” Stitt said. “I feel like I became a man during my four years in Charleston. The experience shaped me into the person I am today. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything in the world. So, there’s no bitterness at all for me.
“There are going to be ups and downs with any program, so my feeling has always been whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I’ll use what I’ve learned here as a tool to keep getting better on the court and as a person.”
Stitt, who wants to be a coach one day, said playing for four different coaches could turn into a blessing in disguise for him down the road.
“The fact that I got to see four different coaches running four different systems will help me as I get into coaching,” Stitt said. “I learned a lot under all four coaches. There’s something that I’ll take from each coach as I move forward in my life. Coach Cremins, coach Byington, coach Wojcik and coach Grant all have their strengths. I got a chance to learn and develop under four really good coaches.”
Stitt was asked to describe each of his coaches:
Coach Cremins: “He’s a legend.”
Coach Byington: “He’s a really smart, up-and-coming coach who is going to have a great career.”
Coach Wojcik: “Attention to detail. His scouting and his ability to prepare a team to play is second to none.”
Coach Grant: “Optimistic and energetic. He has a great will to win. He’ll do great things here.”
On the eve of his final game, Stitt still can’t believe his career with the Cougars is coming to an end.
“I can still remember my first day on campus and figuring out where all of my classes were,” Stitt said. “Now, here I am four years later, getting ready to play for the final time at TD Arena. I’ve tried to soak it all up. I’ve tried to enjoy each moment. I’ve loved my time here.”
There have been plenty of highlights for Stitt, like beating nationally ranked Baylor on the road his sophomore season. But taking down Tennessee, 71-65, at TD Arena during his freshman season is tops on his list. Stitt played 30 minutes against the Volunteers and had nine points and three assists.
“It was a big crowd, the atmosphere was incredible and I was able to come off the bench and have a part in the win,” Stitt said.