For the PSA Cardinals, two things matter more than anything; defense and effort.
For the fourth straight season, they have hardware to back up their mindset.
Sophomore Cole Anthony takes home the 2017 Regular Season Defensive Player of the Year, continuing the trend of elite defense for the New York City based program. Big men Cheick Diallo (2014) and Kassoum Yakwe (2015) started the defensive dominance, followed by Kentucky-bound Quade Green in 2016.
Heading into the 2017 EYBL regular season, Anthony was already established offensively on the national level.
Exiting it, the same can be said about his defense.
The 6-foot-1 floor general ran alongside Green in 2016, allowing him to learn from the best while instilling a defensive mentality that has clearly stuck. Green led the EYBL in steals in 2016, and Anthony did the same over the past two months. While his numbers aren’t as gaudy as Green's, head coach Munch Williams thinks he's had just as much impact.
Why? Simple: leadership - and intelligence.
"While most teams use their center to anchor/lead their defense, we allow Cole to give advice on what defense we should use at certain spots in the game and which defensive scheme is most successful during a given game," Williams said of his point guard. "He has positioned himself as an assistant coach defensively while leading on the court."
Anthony's defensive prowess is even more impressive considering the crucial role he has offensively. He's the leader in all facets for the Cardinals, which allows him to captain a tremendous defensive unit. His steal total isn't the highest of any league leader, but his ability to lock down the opposing guard was uncanny.
The Cardinals gave up a league-low 59 points a game, and Anthony allowed 11.2 points per game to the team's top opposing guards - limiting the likes of Tyler Herro, Javonte Smart, Tyrese Maxey and Tyger Campbell to single digits.
Anthony is the only underclassmen to ever win Defensive Player of the Year, and the only underclassmen to be recognized on a regular season all-EYBL squad (Third Team).
When asked about his former teammate, Green acknowledged Anthony's defensive prowess, but didn't stop there in his accolades.
"Cole is the best two-way player in the country, don't matter the class," Green confidently stated.
"He will guard the best player, and cook the best player."
Photo credit: Jon Lopez
Check out Anthony's numbers below, as well as the Cardinals' defensive dominance.