January 10, 2012

Corey McLaughlin's Major League Lacrosse Draft Preview

Second annual pre-college season draft set for Friday night

by Corey McLaughlin | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter


Expect Long Island native Rob Pannell to be selected by the Lizards with the first overall pick in the 2012 MLL collegiate draft Friday night in Philadelphia.
© Dave Burbank

For the second straight year, Major League Lacrosse will hold its collegiate draft prior to the college season Friday at the US Lacrosse National Convention in Philadelphia. Given the timing, the preseason evaluation process is tricky for MLL coaches and general managers. The eligible college seniors they need to select still have a full season to play this spring. Their stocks could rise or fall dramatically due to injuries, breakout seasons or notable flops.

But you have to start somewhere with a group of prospects to consider. Here's a position-by-position look at players that front offices will likely target in the first round and beyond come draft night.

Check back to LaxMagazine.com Friday night for live blog coverage of the draft and recap.

Attack

Rob Pannell, Cornell
Lacrosse Magazine's NCAA Division I men's preseason player of the year is all but officially going No. 1 overall to the Long Island Lizards. The Lizards acquired the top pick, and attackman Max Quinzani, in a blockbuster trade Dec. 7 that sent Matt Danowski, Stephen Berger and a pair of draft picks to the expansion Charlotte Hounds. Long Island has still yet to name a coach to replace Jim Mule, but GM Casey Hilpert remains and said the Lizards will take someone "local who can make an immediate impact." Sounds like Pannell.

Steele Stanwick, Virginia
The prototypical quarterback has never been the most physically imposing guy on the field, but Stanwick has proven his poise, knowledge of the game and vision. These intangible qualities translate into goals, assists and wins on the field -- and a Tewaaraton Award and national championship last year. Look for Stanwick to go second to the expansion Ohio Machine.

Mark Matthews, Denver
The Canadian is likely to be a very high pick, perhaps as high as No. 3 to Rochester. "He's the best right now at his position, as a wing guy who finishes, feeds and attacks," said former Denver coach and current ESPN analyst Jamie Munro, who recruited Matthews to the Pioneers.

On the Draft Board: Chris Boland, Johns Hopkins; Chris Bocklet; Virginia; Alex Demopoulos, Denver; Jack McBride, North Carolina; Kevin Cunningham, Villanova; Matt Mackrides, Penn State; Anthony Biscardi, UMass; Thomas Wood, North Carolina; Grant Kaleikau, Delaware; Tim Desko, Syracuse; Carter Bender, Hartford; Jeff Cohen, Harvard; Matt Gibson, Yale; Bryan Neufeld, Siena.

The Skinny: This group is the deepest of all the position groups. Boland, in his sixth year at Hopkins, is already older than a number of players in MLL. Players with Bocklet's scoring ability have found success in the league. McBride was drafted by Denver last year but missed his senior season at Princeton with a recurring groin injury. The Outlaws did not protect his rights, so he is up for grabs again. Demopoulos can carry, distribute and score.

First Round

1. Long Island

2. Ohio

3. Rochester

4. Long Island

5. Chesapeake

6. Denver

7. Hamilton

8. Ohio

 

Midfield

Justin Turri, Duke
The 6-foot-3, 208-pound fifth-year senior has proven himself to be effective in the ACC, and can step into a pro team's midfield rotation immediately. "He's played in a lot of big games, is a terrific athlete, has great vision and shoots the ball really hard, but can also find the open man," Turri's college coach, John Danowski, said.

Colin Briggs, Virginia
"The way he shoots the ball..." one MLL coach said in awe. Briggs scored a career-high five goals in last year's NCAA title game after being suspended for the semifinal round for violating team rules. The fifth-year senior has a skill set similar to former Virginia and Boston Cannons middie Chris Rotelli, who, like Briggs, is a Rhode Island native. Briggs has worked Rotelli's instructional camps.

Jimmy Dunster, North Carolina
The speedy 6-foot-2, 200-pound two-way midfielder never likes to come off the field and has "got all the tools to be one of the best midfielders in the country this year," Tar Heels coach Joe Breschi said. If there is a weakness, it's his shooting.

On the Draft Board: Roy Lang, Cornell; Joe Cummings, Maryland; Jake Bernhardt, Maryland; Robert Rotanz, Duke; Brent Adams, Fairfield, Billy Eisenreich, Bucknell; Charlie Streep, Bucknell; Brad Loizeaux, Hofstra; Patrick Rogers, Denver; Frank Resetarits, Albany; Zack Angel, Georgetown; Sam Bradman, Salisbury; Kevin Vaughan, Harvard; Steve Serling, Hofstra; Kevin Drew, Syracuse (SSDM); Dom Sebastiani, Delaware (SSDM); Bobby Datillo, Hobart (FOGO); Dan Cooney, Delaware (FOGO); Stephen Robarge, VMI (FOGO).

The Skinny: The MLL has now been around long enough (11 years) to have its own cliché: "It's a midfielders' league." When in doubt, teams generally lean toward drafting midfielders, the thought being that teams with the most talented midfields have the best chance to win. Some of these midfield prospects could be drafted ahead of more recognizable attackmen, defensemen and goalies. Lang, a California native, is an intriguing choice. Similar to Chesapeake's Matt Abbott, he's a two-way midfielder.

Duke defenseman Mike Manley could be drafted as high as No. 3 by the Rochester Rattlers.
© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

Defense

Mike Manley, Duke
The redshirt senior has excellent cover and stick skills, and he has drawn matchups against the ACC's best offensive threats. Before tearing his left ACL, MCL and meniscus in the summer of 2010 and sitting out last season, Manley had started every game since arriving at Duke and was the Blue Devils' top cover guy. He should be again. "I'm back and full go," he told LM in late November, adding he ditched his knee brace for the final two weeks of fall practice. Rochester will consider the Penn Yan, N.Y., native for the third overall pick.

Chad Wiedmaier, Princeton
He's got toughness, strength and speed with top-line cover skills. What more do you want? He was a Bill Tierney recruit to Princeton. The three-time first-team All-Ivy pick has drawn the assignment of covering Rob Pannell in league games. Chesapeake, which has the fifth pick, is looking for defensive help after Shawn Nadelen's retirement and trades that sent Joe Cinosky to Denver and Kyle Hartzell to expansion Ohio.

C.J. Costabile, Duke
The long-stick midfielder has been a household name since he won the overtime faceoff and scored the game-winning goal of the 2010 NCAA championship game. Costabile's ability between the lines, to face off, grab ground balls and push transition, will help him fit in MLL. And this fall, he focused on improving his defensive skills.

On the Draft Board: Charlie McComas, North Carolina; Matt Lovejoy, Virginia; Matt Kawamoto, Ohio State; Chris Clements, Virginia; Kevin Randall, Notre Dame; Tom Celentani, UMass; John Cunningham, Princeton (LSM); Tim Henderson, Army (LSM), Mark Staines, North Carolina (LSM), Brock Sorensen, Ohio State (LSM).

The Skinny: Manley and Weidmaier are the top cover defensemen, and there's a group of appealing long-stick midfielders. Lovejoy is coming back from a shoulder injury. Watch Kawamoto and Sorensen on what should be a competitive Ohio State squad.

Goalie

Tyler Fiorito, Princeton
It's unlikely Fiorito will be a first-round pick, only because most teams are set with goalies. But he's "head and shoulders" above the rest at his position in this class, according to an MLL general manager who is interested in taking a goaltender in a later round. Fiorito will be the first goalie selected.

On the Draft Board: Mark Manos, Drexel; R.J. Wickham, Navy; Andrew Gvozden, Hofstra; Scott Bement, Hartford; Charlie Cipriano, Fairfield; Ryan Kennelly, Stony Brook.

Check back to LaxMagazine.com Friday night for live blog coverage of the draft and a recap of the night's events.


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