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Final 2024 PLL Big Board

Updated: May 4

Last trip through the big board. I hope you have all enjoyed the ride. A few more shuffles and names moved to the unavailable list.


One note about the unavailable list. In some cases, it doesn’t mean they won’t still get drafted. Andy Towers in particular has shown a willingness to draft someone, or sign someone after the draft, in hopes they come to play right away, or just to stash them for a year. A player taking a grad year in another spot can still be drafted and their rights can be held.


The Premier Lacrosse League 2024 draft will be held on May 7th, and will be broadcast on ESPNU and ESPN+.


Our usual reminder of how this works:


This is NOT a mock draft. I don’t expect players to be drafted in this order and if they are, it would shock me. This is just my personal ranking, both overall and by position, of what I consider the top PLL prospects. These are the guys I think have shown they can play at the next level, ranked based on how likely I believe it is that they have success. I’ve been right before and wrong before, that won’t change. We’ve had back to back years of Sam Handley and Chris Gray staying at the top of the board basically the entire year before not going first overall. This isn’t a prediction, it’s just a list.


We are just about done with all the COVID years and all that jazz. There will always be transfers and grad years, the portal is what it is, but hopefully we are much more easily able to say this is year five, that’s it, for players. Maybe year six. Maybe we hit football territory and get to year eight. A guy can dream. Either way, I try to be as consistent as I can from year to year. My approach is simple. The PLL says current college seniors and grad students can declare and be drafted. While some of the seniors can still decide to return to school, being seniors makes them draft eligible and worthy of consideration. Once I hear otherwise about a player (returning to school, not declaring, whatever the case may be), I take them off the rankings and move them to “Notable Unavailable Players” section. Players have forgone eligibility before. Brett Dobson went pro with a year of eligibility left, as did Grant Ament before him, although many are finding ways to maximize their college years. Matt Brandau, for example, is one of a few Yale players who withdrew from Yale for the fall to preserve two spring semesters of eligibility, so he is able to get an extra “year” in the Ivy that way. In quite a few cases, if a player is known to have eligibility remaining, I put them in the Players to Watch section and not in the top five in their position group.


I watch a lot of lacrosse. Maybe too much. But the college lacrosse world is an enormous place. An awful lot can happen between today and draft day. One of the best parts of doing this is that players prove to be risers and fallers on the board as the season goes on. I absolutely love getting this stuff wrong and looking back at it later. This isn’t the final be all and end all list, it’s a work in progress and that progress rolls from now until draft day. If you read this and think “Dan is clueless, he still has that guy too high/too low on the list” or “Dan is clueless and doesn’t have this guy on the list” you can let me know which of those “Dan is clueless” situations apply via the Sticks In mailbag or on social media.


For the last time in 2024:


OVERALL:

Brennan O’Neill, Attack, Duke

Connor Shellenberger, Attack, UVA

Pat Kavanagh, Attack, Notre Dame

Matt Brandau, Attack, Yale

Jake Stevens, Midfield, Princeton/Syracuse

Liam Entenmann, Goalie, Notre Dame

TJ Malone, Attack, Penn State

Shane Knobloch, Midfield, Rutgers

Kenny Brower, Defense, Duke

Beau Pederson, Midfield, Princeton/Michigan


NOTABLE UNAVAILABLE PLAYERS:

CJ Kirst, A, Cornell (Listed as a ‘25 by Cornell)

Cole Kastner, D, UVA (Taking a Grad Year with Stanford Basketball)

Sam English, M, Princeton/Syracuse (Has two years of eligibility post transfer to Syracuse)

Jake Taylor, A, Notre Dame (Returning to Notre Dame in 2025)

Patrick Hackler, M, Yale (Expected to take Grad Year)

Michael Grace, D, RIT (Taking Grad Year at Syracuse)

Dylan Hess, M, Georgetown (Expected to take Grad Year in Football)

Brendan Lavelle, D, Penn (Has another year)

Emmet Carroll, G, Penn (Has another year)


ATTACK:

Brennan O’Neill, Duke

Connor Shellenberger, Virginia

Pat Kavanagh, Notre Dame

Matt Brandau, Yale

TJ Malone, Penn State


Players to Watch: Dyson Williams, Levi Anderson, Ross Scott, Josh Zawada, Payton Cormier, Mike Robinson, Garrett Degnon, JJ Sillstrop, Michael Long, Vince D’Alto, Brayden Mayea, Jack Boyden, Toron Eccelston, Dylan Pallonetti, Louis Perfetto


I refuse to cut down the attack list. Every player on this list is PLL good. While I, and at this point just about everyone, am expecting Shellenberger to go first in the draft, I maintain that the best prospect in the sport is Brennan O’Neill. The highest impact player on the field, highest ceiling, whatever you want to call it. It will be a while before a player with his combination of strength and skill comes along again. Shellenberger being more of the true QB, play from X with both hands, dodge to score or dodge to feed type player is just a different skill set. This ground has been very well covered at this point. Players to Watch need some flowers. I think Mike Robinson gets drafted and makes somebody very happy. As pure shooters, Robinson and Degnon are the best in the draft for my money. The lefty from Peterborough is a goal scoring machine who already has Team Canada experience. Levi Anderson will be interesting. Last year, he’d be a top talent available on offense. This class pushes him down the list a bit. For some coaches/experts out there, his play has plateaued over the last season or so, and that’s a cause for concern. I’m not concerned and still a believer, and Chaos should be very interested. Towers already drafted him once.



MIDFIELD, TUCKER DORDEVIC DIVISION

Shane Knobloch, Rutgers

Graham Bundy Jr, Georgetown

Eric Dobson, Notre Dame

Dalton Young, Richmond

Reese Burek, Army


Players to watch: Alex Vardaro, Scott Cole, Adam Poitras, Brock Haley, Hugh Kelleher, Christian Ronda, Noah Armitage, Andrew Cook


Noah Armitage dips out of the top five as, despite his physical gifts, his play this season just doesn't warrant him being above the others on this list. As of this moment, even though he’s been an NLL draft pick already, he may ultimately be a post draft add for someone. Knobloch takes the top spot, he is the most PLL ready dodger in this group by a decent margin. Like Dordevic last year, he’s the type of player who could start seeing a pole early in his pro career. Adam Poitras has been fun to watch at Loyola of late, and I’m sure coaches have taken notice to his ability as a passer. Every year at draft time, it’s easy for fans and media to get caught up in the ability of current college stars as alphas on their team. Pass first players in the midfield are not always in abundance, it that elevates Poitras’ value in my eyes.


MIDFIELD, LATRELL HARRIS DIVISION

Jake Stevens, Princeton

Beau Pederson, Princeton/Michigan

Chase Yager, Harvard/UVA

Grant Haus, Penn State

Tucker Garrity, Jacksonville


Players to Watch: Brett Martin, Reece Potter


Stevens remains the top of my list for two way guys. He is “we have Zach Currier at home”. For teams in need of a pure SSDM, this is really a one player draft. It’s Pederson and everyone else, and it’s been that way for a while. He is just plain bigger, stronger, faster, better than all the other SSDMs in this draft. Chase Yager has played his way up charts in the second half of the season. He’s having some of his best games of the year against UVA’s toughest opponents.


DEFENSE/LSM

Kenny Brower, Duke

Jake Piseno, Albany

Ajax Zappitello, Maryland

Mason Woodward, Marquette

Marcus Hudgins, Army/Ohio State


Players to Watch: Roy Meyer, Pat Morrison, Jackson Bonitz, Mitchell Dunham, Tyler Carpenter, AJ Mercurio, Scott Smith, Jack DiBenedetto


I’ll probably remain the lone voice with this take, at least publicly, but I still believe Kenny Brower will be a better close defender than anyone else in this class. Everyone gets hung up on individual game performances, because recently Pat Kavanagh got the better of Brower. Don’t be those people. Don’t watch one game and think that is enough to draw any meaningful conclusions about a player as a pro prospect. Brower has spent practices locking horns with Brennan O’Neill for years, gotten the better of Shellenberger multiple times, and has better footwork and fundamentals than anyone else in this class. Marcus Hudgins is a riser lately. He was regarded as one of the best defenders in the nation when at West Point. He was Patriot League DPOY as a junior and multiple time All American before he transferred to Ohio State. It’s not really much of a surprise to see him regain that form and put some outstanding play on tape.


GOALIE:

Liam Entenmann, Notre Dame,

Will Mark, Syracuse

Matt Knote, UMass


Players to watch: Chayse Ierlan, Logan McNaney


I consider this a 1 and 1a situation now. If I’m a GM, I take Mark first in the draft, but this isn’t a mock draft. Entenmann, when he sees the shots he wants with a good defense in front of him, is off the charts good. That said, it’s a set of circumstances that makes his pro success at least a little bit dependent on the team that drafts him. Will Mark has seen 700 more shots than Entenmann has. It’s like another full season. He’ll come close to 3000 shots faced in college. Independent of the defense in front of him, Mark will make saves and be ready for everything.


FACEOFF:

Jake Naso, Duke

Luke Wierman, Maryland

Alec Stathakis, Denver


Players to watch: Tommy Burke, Mason Kohn


Not a whole lot to change here. Naso and Wierman are likely the first two in the class. I really liked Stathakis before the PLL’s latest round of rule changes, as he’s built like Sisselberger and handles physical pressure very well. He’d soak abuse from a pole and win draws very well if that could still happen. He’s a pro in my eyes either way, but the rule change, to me, actually drops him down a bit.


THE FUTURE


This is by no means an all encompassing list. Just a few names that will be seniors or grad students next year, and will enter the spring of 2025 as the top names to watch for the PLL Draft. Some may be available in the draft, some may squeeze out another year in college if they want. There will be plenty more.


ATTACK: CJ Kirst, Jake Taylor, Sam King, Coulter Mackesy


Ivy League attackmen abound. Kirst is already presumed to be the top pick in the 2025 draft. He’s a safe bet to, at a minimum, be on the medal stand for the Tewaaraton three times. He’ll spend next year chasing records and snatching the souls of defenders as a dodger. He will be a high pick for both pro leagues. King and Mackesy are both seniors next year, and could technically even take grad years outside of the Ivy after next year. Both are elite as dodgers, Mackesy has a bit more in the way of range as a shooter, but I’d rate King as a better distributor. Taylor is the perfect player for a team that doesn’t need another ball dominant player. He has elite hands, he understands offense as well as anyone, and will be a thorn in the side of help defenders from day one in the PLL.


MIDFIELD: Sam English, Griffin Schutz, Andrew McAdorey, Matt Traynor


That’s a hell of a group. English is a special player. For years, the entire stadium has yelled, “he wants his right” as soon as English gets the ball, and then he gets his right anyway. Until the defender so severely overplays the right, that English goes underneath. This concept is so simple, but nobody in college lacrosse executes it better than English. He draws slides all the time. Schutz is the best of this group in terms of pure physicality. He’ll give people Max Seibald vibes. Schutz doesn’t bother with splits or other fancy things like, say, change of direction. He just goes through people. He’s a natural attackman and is a nightmare to guard in inverts. McAdorey can play anywhere in an offense. Midfield and attack at St Anthony’s where he shared the field with Brennan O’Neill, midfield and attack at Duke where he shares the field with Brennan O’Neill. His quickness and elusiveness as a dodger is top tier. Traynor has played both spots as well, and probably projects as a midfielder in the pros.


SSDM, TWO WAY: Casey Wilson, Dylan Hess, Patrick Hackler, Carter Rice, Ben Ramsey


Hess is taking a grad year next year reportedly to play football. If he decides to make football a pro sports path, he’ll obviously not be in the mix for the PLL draft. If he is available, he’ll be among the top SSDMs available. Hackler is a do it all midfielder who reportedly will take a grad year away from Yale in 2025. He’s been Yale’s top SSDM, a first line offensive midfield option, a wing midfielder on faceoffs. Casey Wilson has been a Team Canada SSDM since he was an underclassman at Denver, he’ll be a strong candidate to be the first SSDM off the board if he’s available. The versatile, do it all middie prize for next year’s draft class is Hackler. Rice and Ramsey are pure defenders, but both will be highly rated. The 2025 two way middie draft class is shaping up very well.


DEFENSE: Cole Kastner, Michael Grace, AJ Pilate, Colin Mulshine


Kastner, like Hess, is taking a grad year to play another sport. He’ll be playing basketball for Stanford. If lacrosse is what he wants to come back to, he’s an easy pick for top available pole. You could make a case for him as the top pole in 2024 if he was going pro in lacrosse. Michael Grace is taking a grad year at Syracuse after spending the last few years running amok in DIII at RIT. He’s a Team Canada defenseman, pro ready at LSM or down low, and could very well be the top overall pick in the next NLL draft as well. AJ Pilate is the latest in a line of outstanding Army defenseman. Availability is always a question, but if you want a fundamentally sound cover defender who can show up and anchor a defense, go to West Point.


FACEOFF: Will Colletti, Machado Rodriguez


Both these guys had massive breakouts this year. Colletti was a midseason first team All American, the only unanimous choice. He’s been critical to the success at Army this year. Rodriguez, as Jerry Ragonese told me, “plays like he’s on fire”. Everything he does is at remarkably high speed. If all gas no brakes was a lacrosse player, it would be Rodriguez. The entire unit at Yale for faceoffs has been outstanding, Rodriguez though has really stood out.


GOALIE: Jack Fracyon, Zach Vigue


Goalie is always difficult. It’s just not a job that comes open all that often in the pros. Fracyon came into 2024 as a teamer All American but hasn’t been super consistent. Another year at PSU anchoring their defense will only make him better. Zach Vigue backstops an outstanding defensive unit at Richmond, he has really come on this season. Both will enter next year among the best in the nation at their position.


THIS BOARD


Ah yes, the future of the big board itself. In full candor, I found it to be exhausting to try and see all these players and maintain this board before the PLL Draft. And, frankly, pointless. I look around the lacrosse landscape and I count several other people doing big boards. I don’t feel as if any of us are really saying or doing anything all that different from one another. Do people need 5 different big boards to tell them the same thing, and does any of it matter when all anyone seems to care about anyway is the three guys at the top, or who gets the biggest superlatives? I found myself feeling that if there’s a lot of people doing this, and it’s all basically the same anyway, then my time probably isn’t well spent. I don’t plan to abandon draft coverage altogether, but I almost certainly won’t be doing this board in the future unless I get a very good reason. PLL has the boards and media members they like to use, those are basically the same as this one anyway, so I’m not sure there’s any point to me doing this.

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