BLUEFIELD — Down four points with less than a minute left in the third quarter Isaac Haas was called for a charge and wanted an explanation after the officials reviewed it for possibly being a flagrant foul.
Bluefield native Anthony Eades, one of the three officials for this second round game of The Basketball Tournament, calmly explained to Haas the reason for the foul call and why it was not a flagrant foul.
Haas accepted the explanation as much as one can do in an elimination game while showing a wide audience Eades and his focus on communication as a basketball official.
“Communication is one of the most important parts about refereeing. Getting your plays right, all that matters, but if you can’t communicate with players and coaches it can mess the game up,” Eades said.
Eades drew praise from a number of people within basketball including former Virginia Tech men’s basketball head coach Seth Greenberg for his explanation to Haas about the foul call.
He learned about the importance of communication for officials from his father, Mike Eades, who has been refereeing games for over 30 years and was recently named the Coordinator of Men’s Basketball Officials for a consortium of conferences headlines by the Southeastern Conference.
“I’ll tell them what I see, they’ll tell me what they thought they saw or what they did whatever it may be and just find a middle ground somewhere and then just move on,” Eades said.
Eades sees communicating with players and coaches a crucial way to prevent games from getting out of hand and technicals being issued.
“I know a lot of refs like to use technicals and it’s warranted sometimes but a lot of the times if you can talk to them and get to them first you can eliminate giving them a technical,” Eades said.
The emotions were extremely high every game as the tournament would be over for the losing team and the winning squad would advance one game closer to collecting the $1 million winner-take-all prize.
“They’re not too worried about the coronavirus when they’re out there playing for a million dollars,” Eades said.
The tournament featured many former professional and college players including 17-year NBA veteran Joe Johnson who led Overseas Elite to the semifinals.
Having top players on the court like Johnson helps Eades become a better referee.
“It makes me better as a referee just how hard the games are and it’s really cool to officiate,” Eades said.
The five games in Columbus were the first games Eades has been able to officiate since march when all sporting events stopped due to coronavirus.
Eades was headed up to Indiana University of Pennsylvania to referee the Division II national tournament when it was canceled.
“I didn’t miss out on a whole lot but I did miss out on the most important part of the season which I was looking forward to,” Eades said.
He officiates a number of Division II, III and NAIA games along with six D-I conferences.
This was the fourth year Eades has officiated the TBT and third year in Columbus. When offered the opportunity in mid-June Eades jumped at it after months of no basketball.
“Nothing going on right now and first basketball played in America since March so I was like this would be a great opportunity for me get some exposure, great experience,” Eades said.
The tournament had protocols in place for everybody that was in the building including tests before they arrived and multiple while at the hotel.
“We had to do everything that the players, the coaches, the other staff and everybody else did,” Eades said.
Eades took four tests before he stepped onto the court for his first game and was actually scheduled to referee a sixth game but that was canceled as the team was kicked out due to a player testing positive.
The tournament had many eyes on it to see what would happen as professional sports begin to return to games one location for most sports other than baseball.
“This format had a lot of pressure on them, they’re trying to set the precedent for sports in America right now on how you can do things with the pandemic going on and they did a tremendous job,” Eades said.
Even though his dad is one of the top basketball officials, Eades was not planning to follow him in that career path. After a standout career at Bluefield High School where he led the Beavers to two state titles and hold the school points record he attended Tusculum University.
His second year at college he though about officiating some basketball games to make some money and his first games were at the Graham Summer League in Bluefield, Virginia.
After games Eades is able to give his father a phone call and talk about the game he just refereed.
“He’ll just give me insight on things because he’s been refereeing for 30-some years and he knows how to get through situations, get through plays and he’s a really good mentor not only to me but a lot of other refs,” Eades said.