Is Notre Dame’s Anthony Sayles the area’s next two-sport superstar?

Notre Dame's Anthony Sayles (7) rolls out for a pass against Marist. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.
Notre Dame's Anthony Sayles (7) rolls out for a pass against Marist. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.

Even though Anthony Sayles is just a sophomore he’s been compared to Chicago preps legend and former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb.

McNabb played football and basketball at Mount Carmel and Syracuse. Sayles, who is Notre Dame’s starting quarterback and point guard, patterns his game after two other dual threat quarterbacks.

“I like the comparison,” Sayles said. “My teammates try compare me to a Mike Vick or a Lamar Jackson. I’ve never heard the McNabb comparison.”

Sayles, 6-2, 170-pounds, has terrific time management skills.

“I try to balance my time equally,” Sayles said. “When I make priorities, it’s football during football season. I bounce back in between. When I’m in another sport, that’s the priority during that season. We played a tough team last week. We’re bouncing back to play another tough team this week.”

Before all of that, Sayles had to win over a veteran group as a young player short on experience. Thus far, he’s gotten a senior-led group to believe that he belongs.

“I’m getting a lot of help from the older guys,” Sayles said. “Especially the quarterbacks. When I was pulled up from the freshman team, they taught all they know. They told me to listen to coach and help the team as much as I can. It was tough at the start of the season.”

Sayles, an Evanston native, came onto the local hoops scene last season when he dropped 30 points in state playoff game.

Notre Dame's Anthony Sayles (10) drives toward the basket. Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times.

Notre Dame’s Anthony Sayles (10) drives toward the basket. Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times.

Notre Dame football coach Mike Hennessey says that Sayles has succeeded in getting the seniors to buy into him being the leader of the huddle. The Dons had a senior and junior quarterback who had a great summer, too.

But Sayles seemed to be the best fit for what Notre Dame wants to do with its spread offense.

“He’s quality young man and highly coachable,” Hennessey said. “He’s highly competitive. I think that’s the key to what’s starting to show. Even as a sophomore he has an ability to be a great teammate and leader. He’s taken charge of what we’re doing in our huddle. You can’t ask for more than that.”

Hennessey says that Sayles’ poise shows when he juggles multiple commitments on and off the field.

“We’ve talked about how he should budget his time,” Hennessey said. “It’s all good. If he’s competing there, that means he’ll compete here, which will make him a better player. When we get our time with him, we’ll make the most of it. When it’s time for basketball, he’ll make the most of it.”

Sayles would love to play football and basketball in college. However, that’s something he will think about when the time comes. He would rather focus on the now.

“I’ll make that tough decision when it comes,” Sayles said. “I’d love to play both sports in college, but there might be a time when I have to choose. I’ll make that decision sometimes down the road.”

Notre Dame’s next game is Friday against Benet.

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12 comments

  • Taylor Bell

    Sayles may be one of the best two-way stars of 2018-19. But, at this point, he hardly compares to past stars such as Otto Graham, Lamarr Thomas, Quinn Buckner, Dave Butz, Bob Trumpy, Buddy Young and Tai Streets.

  • Taylor Bell

    Sayles may be the best two-sport star of 2018-19. But, at this point, he hardly compares to past stars such as Lamarr Thomas, Quinn Buckner, Tai Streets, Otto Graham, Buddy Young, Bob Trumpy and Dave Butz.

  • Paul

    Check out Seamus Toler at St Laurence. Just ask some of the parents from Marist and they will tell you the same thing. Football and Basketball

  • Tim from Evanston

    He plays in the ESCC and he plays against plenty of competition. I can bet you’ve never seen Sayles play. Typical homer comments from you, I’ve seen both and get over it man Sayles is better. He better hope Sayles doesn’t dunk on his head. Addendum: he plays against National level games on the Under Armour Circuit with the Illinois Wolves.

  • Coach B

    It’s a preference thing between the two of them. Bucky has more physical tools than Anthony Sayles, but that doesn’t mean he’s the better overall player. Similarly, Anthony carries more responsibility in more complicated systems than Bucky does, but it doesn’t mean he has a higher IQ. They’re JUST starting their sophomore years, so let’s wait until the end of summer 2019 to do this. It’s way too early.

    • Tim from Evanston

      What? More physical tools? You’ve never watched Sayles play basketball man. I hope you’re talking about Football?

  • Teddy

    Hilcrest running back Irving is better than him in both sports

    • Tim from Evanston

      Irving is not better than Sayles in basketball. I have not seen Irving play football except for highlights but Sayles is not just a runner, he can really spin the ball. I saw him throw a ball 60 yards with just the flick of a wrist. Get your mind to reality partner.

      • Teddy

        What is you looking at ? That north side ball is nothing you better ask around he can go anywhere in IHSA and start in football and go anywhere on north side and start in basketball

        • Tim from Evanston

          What? The South Suburbs is a wasteland for basketball talent. Sayles is a better basketball player than Irving by every measure. It’s not close.

          • Teddy

            He’s from the south side of Chicago notre Dame don’t play no good team you better look at the games he played last year

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