CBS NCAA basketball analyst Greg Anthony, left, and play-by-play announcer...

CBS NCAA basketball analyst Greg Anthony, left, and play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz on March 21, 2014. Credit: CBS/Andy Lopusnak

It has been nearly a quarter-century since Greg Anthony first rose to prominence, known not only as UNLV's point guard but as a voice of reason among the Runnin' Rebels, a man who aspired to be the first black U.S. Senator from Nevada.

All that seems like long ago now -- and it was -- partly because he ended up following a different path in life, one that Saturday night will reach a milestone when he works the Final Four from courtside on TBS.

But becoming a basketball analyst rather than a politician hasn't changed his outlook on life and civic duty.

"This is my calling, in essence," he said recently. "This is my opportunity to contribute to society in some way."

That does not mean advocating for political causes during basketball games. It does mean that being in the public eye gives him a forum he values.

"Obviously you have to filter what you want to say and understand the significance and impact of what your words will carry," he said. "But you also have to be true to who you are,"

Anthony said in a 2012 television ad that ran in Nevada markets that he had voted for Barack Obama in 2008 but now was endorsing Mitt Romney for president.

"I think it's a responsibility we have as citizens to be active participants, not necessarily just running for office but being engaged in what's going on," he said. "So absolutely I still stay involved."

But between his TV work and business interests, there is only so much time available for a guy with children ages 13, 11, 2 and 10 days.

So his "plate is plenty full," especially now that in addition to working for NBA TV, he is one of the most visible figures in college basketball.

Anthony, 46, had been a studio commentator for CBS/ Turner when "out of the blue" before this season, he was asked to replace Clark Kellogg as CBS' lead game analyst.

It has been a dizzying rise for a guy who during an NBA career that lasted from 1991 to 2002 never gave a thought to entering broadcasting when he retired.

"Looking back, I consider myself at least above average in intelligence, and I am like, 'What an idiot you were that you never even considered doing this!' " he said. "It's amazing the journey and the path one's life takes."

Saturday's games -- the first national semifinals ever to appear on a cable network -- will mark the first time Jim Nantz, Steve Kerr and Anthony have worked as a team.

Nantz was to join them for the Big Ten Tournament, but his wife, Courtney, gave birth to a daughter March 14. Anthony's wife, Chere, gave birth to a daughter March 25.

Any concerns about throwing together an announcing team for the first time for such important games? "Not the slightest bit," Kerr said. "[Anthony and I] did three games together in Indianapolis. I honestly can say it was seamless."

Anthony was a Knick for his first four NBA seasons and said he still feels connected to the franchise. "I will always be remembered as a Knick when you go around and talk to people," he said. "I don't necessarily root, but I always want to see my Knicks do well."

Before the brackets came out, he said he had his "fingers crossed" he would land the East Regional at Madison Square Garden, but he wound up in the Midwest instead.

Now comes the biggest stage of all, confirmation that this, not politics, was his second-career destiny. He said the game has set him on his course in life since third grade and he feels a responsibility to it.

"First of all, I love it," he said. "And it's not often we do things in life that we get to the top, so the opportunity to be one of the faces that call the Final Four, you're not going to accomplish anything anywhere that's any better."