Head Coach Munch Williams
2019 is a big season for the PSA Cardinals. For the first time in three years, they won’t have the backcourt services of Cole Anthony. The longtime floor general will be moving on to the college of his choice, meaning the Cardinals have a ton of production to replace from last season. Head coach Terrence ‘Munch’ Williams knows how important Anthony was to his program, but his ability to reload his 17U squad with elite talent has been proven over the past six years on the circuit. The Cardinals finished the regular season with a 9-9 record, depending heavily on Anthony’s leadership and productivity. The New York City EYBL affiliate will be depending on a group of EYBL newcomers to replace Anthony, and the rotation should feature more than enough talent to win in the league. The Cardinals haven’t missed Peach Jam since they joined the EYBL in 2013, and they don’t plan on starting this summer.
Replacing an EYBL Regular Season Most Valuable Player isn’t a task suited for one player, and the Cardinals will be approaching the situation with a star-by-committee approach. Junior point guard AJ Hoggard (247 No. 90) will start at the point, and the Huntington Prep (WV) product will look to build on his EYBL experience as a sophomore. Hoggard is a strong, sturdy backcourt option that is best when he’s attacking the basket. In 2018, Hoggard averaged 13.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.2 steals with Team Final before leaving the program in July. He’s sneaky athletic and will be relied upon to distribute and play-make for his teammates.
Adrian Griffin will play huge minutes for Williams and company, and the 6-foot-6 sophomore has ‘pro’ written all over him. Griffin (247 No. 12), the son of former NBA veteran and current NBA coach Adrian Griffin, was injured at the beginning of the 2018-19 season at Archbishop Stepinac (NY). When he returned in, he absolutely tore up the court, averaging 20.9 points, 10.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 3.5 blocks, and 2.4 steals. Griffin was named First-Team All Westchester/Putnam Count by Lohud Sports and was named to the CHSAA All-Tournament team. The Cardinals have big plans for the underclassman, and he’ll have every chance to cement his status as a top ten player in the 2021 graduating class. Also worth noting - Griffin is only 15 years old. Set to turn 16 on August 28th, Griffin will navigate the EYBL as the youngest player in the 2021 class.
PSA junior AJ Hoggard (247 2020 No .90)
The Cardinals’ backcourt will run six deep. Hoggard will see big minutes with the ball in his hands, while Griffin will definitely see time at the small forward position. Junior guard Hassan Diarra will play crucial minutes alongside Hoggard, and the 6-foot-4 Putnam Science Academy (CT) is a proven winner, helping the Mustangs to a 37-2 regular season record while dropping big numbers in a narrow National Prep Championship semifinals loss. Diarra (247 No. 71) is rock-solid in all facets of the game, has improving athleticism and competes with an edge. He will have a big role in the PSA backcourt, and his stock should continue to rise.
Jamal Mashburn Jr, son of longtime NBA veteran Jamal Mashburn, joins the fray for his final grassroots season, making his way over from Team Breakdown of the UAA. The Brewster Academy (CT) product will provide a sure-fire offensive spark from the perimeter, and he should see plenty of open looks in the Cardinals’ system. Mashburn (247 No. 78) is coming into the EYBL fresh off scoring 24 points in Brewster's National Prep Championship win over Scotland Campus. Juniors Mekhi Gray and Jalin Sinclair will join 2018 veteran Vasja Pandza as options off the bench for Williams. Pandza (6-foot-8) should see minutes at the two and the three, while Gray and Sinclair will be primary ball-handling options as reliable glue-guys.
The Cardinals are known for developing professionals in the frontcourt, as they’ve housed the talents of NBA players Mo Bamba (Magic), Thomas Bryant (Wizards) and Omari Spellman (Hawks). 2019 should be another impressive campaign for the forward factory, as they’ll feature a rotation of four talented big men alongside Griffin.
6-foot-10 big man Franck Kepnang will start at center for PSA, and he will be a major difference-maker for Williams and company. The sophomore Kepnang (247 No. 17) is a rebounding machine and has some of the strongest hands you'll see on a 16-year old. Kepnang will provide PSA with developing athleticism and a natural rim-protector. He's a 5-star recruit for a reason, and his presence on the court is a gamechanger.
6-foot-9 junior Richie Springs returns from last year's squad and will be looking to improve on 16-game averages of 5.1 points and 4.3 rebounds. Springs (247 No. 103) will play a bigger role on this year's team, and his constant motor should make him one of the best offensive rebounders in the division.
Abou Ousmane, also a 6-foot-9 junior, will play big minutes in the frontcourt. Ousmane plays alongside Diarra at Putnam Science Academy, and he'll provide PSA with the perfect glue-guy. Ousmane can impact a game without having to touch the ball. Ousmane should be well-prepared for the EYBL after playing big minutes for Putnam. 7-foot center Josh Gray will see time off the bench, and the big man will be counted on for rebounding and shot-blocking.
PSA sophomore Franck Kepnang (247 2021 No. 17)
Assistant coach Isaac Green is impressed with how the squad has looked through preseason work.
"We're a competitive and cohesive group that has their eyes focused on the prize," Greens said. "Quick learners. We've made significant strides with our stuff in the short few weeks we've been together."
With six players ranked by 247 Sports, the Cardinals will enter 2019 with no shortage of talent. They’ll be tested early and often, and we will have all eyes on the backcourt as they look to replace one of the best players in league history. Williams always finds a way to put a productive product on the floor, and better yet, his entire roster is always set to roll with a college scholarship. The Cardinals are turning into a model EYBL program, and their recent success would make anything short of a Peach Jam bid a massive disappointment this spring and summer.