- The Washington Times - Monday, March 7, 2016

Anthony Bilas found it normal growing up to turn on the television and watch his dad, Jay, analyzing games for ESPN.

What he still can’t get used to is the number of people who ask him about his father’s übercool social media persona.

“He went from being a goofy dad to all of a sudden, people are asking me how much swag he has and stuff like that,” Anthony Bilas said. “It’s weird. I don’t know. He has a lot more swag on the Internet than he does around me.”

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A freshman walk-on at Wake Forest, Anthony acknowledges that there are still times when he’ll turn on his TV and see his father, unaware that he’s been assigned to a game or is at the network’s studios in Connecticut.

This week should lead to a little more face time. Wake Forest is the No. 13 seed in the ACC tournament, which begins play against N.C. State at Verizon Center on Tuesday, and Jay Bilas will serve as the lead analyst for the prime time games from Wednesday through Saturday.

Jay, who played at Duke in the mid-1980s and is also a lawyer, said that he’s “too old” to root for certain players or teams anymore. Still, Jay would find it special to call one of Wake Forest’s games, even though Anthony has played just one minute over two appearances this season.

“For me to go to a basketball tournament and my son is on one of the teams, yeah, it’s a special thing,” said Jay, who plans to be in the stands with his wife, Wendy, for the game on Tuesday. “It’s more fun, I think, to see your kid do it than for you to do it, and I’ve had more fun watching him play than I ever had going to my own games.”

As his son grew up, Jay tried to maintain a boundary between being a father and being a teacher. Aside from helping out with an AAU team and leading him in an occasional basketball camp, he tried to avoid coaching altogether.

Anthony said his father would break down some of his high school basketball film after games to help him, but Jay considered that a secondary responsibility.

“I wanted to hear about, ‘Hey, what did some of the guys say on the bus?’ or ‘What funny happened?’” Jay Bilas said. “I wanted to be his dad. He hears enough of it.”

Over the years, Anthony would join his father on an occasional trip, usually if ESPN’s flagship college basketball show, “College GameDay,” would “go to a cool place,” he said. Now, as a player, Anthony said he has gained an additional perspective of his father’s media obligations, especially as he watches broadcast crews scout teams before they call a game.

As a personality, Jay has gained a considerable social media audience — he recently surpassed 1 million followers on Twitter, where he is known for effusively quoting Young Jeezy’s rap lyrics each morning — and is trying to broaden his reach through Instagram.

Years ago, as Jay began setting up his social media accounts, he’d read off the e-mailed notifications of people who had followed him, including a number of basketball greats. Anthony remembered often being taken aback by each successive name.

“I mean, I used to not think my dad was a big deal, but I kind of have to accept it,” Anthony said. “He’s kind of famous.”

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