We’ve had games! This is our first update since the first edition dropped back in January. Now that we have some game action we can have our first revision, so welcome to Big Board v2. If you’re new to this, the concept of the Big Board is a listing/ranking of players who are current college seniors or grad students, making them eligible for the next Premier Lacrosse League College Draft. The draft usually takes place in April sometime, which is while these players are still in the midst of their season and likely wrangling for postseason position. A few rules about the Big Board:
1. This is NOT a mock draft. I don’t expect players to be drafted in this order and frankly if they are, it would shock me. This is just my personal ranking, both overall and by position, of the best 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. Last year Chris Gray spent the whole season at number one for just about every expert out there, and then didn’t go first in the draft.
2. Now that the season is underway, the Big Board will get updated on a bi-weekly or so basis to reflect players stock rising, falling, and allow new players who have excellent years to play their way into the list. There’s almost always a big mover coming from “nowhere” to shoot up the list and catch eyes.
3. COVID and Grad eligibility are still monkey wrenching this whole show. I try to be as consistent as I can from year to year. So here’s how I approach this. The PLL says current college seniors and grad students can be drafted. While some of the seniors can return to school, if they’re seniors that makes them draft eligible. 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, which already has a few occupants. Expect that to grow as the season goes on. Players have forgone eligibility before, as recently as last year when Dobson went pro, 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 more spring semesters of eligibility, meaning he can play college ball in 2024 as well even though he’s a senior. A number of Princeton players entered the portal already for grad years as well, they’ll play outside the Ivy. For now, the list includes these Ivy cases and Ohio State defenseman Marcus Hudgins, who transferred from Army with two years of eligibility left. But this list will adjust as the college season rolls on. Many names on the Players To Watch lists are there because they have eligibility remaining.
4. I watch a lot of lacrosse. Maybe too much. But the college lacrosse world is an enormous place, and it only takes a couple weekends until my backlog of games/possessions to watch is enormous. If you read this and think “Dan is clueless, he still has that guy on the list” or “Dan is clueless and doesn’t have this guy on the list”, I’m easy to find, and you can let me know which of those “Dan is clueless” situations apply.
Without further ado, my board.
1. Sam Handley, Midfield, Penn
2. Will Bowen, Defense, UNC/Georgetown
3. Mike Sisselberger, Faceoff Specialist, Lehigh
4. Gavin Adler, Defense, Cornell
5. Brett Makar, Defense, Maryland
6. Kyle Long, Midfield, Maryland
7. Owen Grant, Defense, Delaware
8. Jack Myers, Ohio State
9. Tucker Dordevic, Attack/Midfield, Syracuse/Georgetown
10. Zach Cole, Faceoff Specialist, Saint Joe’s
Notable Unavailable Seniors:
Matt Brandau, Yale Marcus Hudgins, Army/Ohio State Sam English, Princeton Jake Stevens, Princeton Beau Pederson, Princeton Graham Bundy, Georgetown
The overall list adjusts a bit because Graham Bundy drops off. He is confirmed to be returning to school, so the PLL will have to wait. With him dropping out, Jack Myers moves into the Top 10 after an excellent opening game against Air Force. I think the adjustment from the Ohio State offense to a pro offense will be something of a challenge, but Myers has all the physical tools needed to be an effective pro. Myers is not a great option to run out of the box, he probably needs to start at attack in the PLL, and that’s not something rookies do very often. Another interesting note on the list is in regards to the top overall player, Sam Handley. On the Ivy Media Day call, Handley was asked about this being his last year and his outlook. Handley pointed out that technically it’s his last year AT PENN. Possibly teasing one more year in college? Being cryptic about future plans? This is what makes it fun. Handley staying in college would send shockwaves all over the board, and for PLL teams considering trying to trade up for him. Another mover here is Dordevic, who I’ve dropped down the list. Dordevic is an undeniably dynamic individual talent. Probably the best pure dodger in the class. But there must be questions a bit now, given that Georgetown is off to a poor start and his last year at Syracuse, where he was the show runner, wasn’t a great team offense. In the pros he’ll have to fit with other pieces. I’ve put Zach Cole into the Top 10. One single year does not fully form a prospect’s pro resume, but this year, Cole has been the best faceoff man in the sport in my eyes. Two teams with a need at faceoff will get guys that can be game changers.
1. Jack Myers, Ohio State
2. Tucker Dordevic, Syracuse/Georgetown
3. Dylan Watson, Georgetown/Jacksonville
4. Payton Cormier, UVA
5. Dyson Williams, Duke
Players to watch: Logan McGovern, Dylan Pallonnetti, Colby Smith, Xander Dickson, Max Waldbaum, Sean Goldsmith, Cross Ferrera
Jack Myers has had an excellent start to the year against Ohio State and becomes the top attack prospect. As good as Myers is, I think his being at one right now should tell you that if you need big attack help this offseason, the draft shouldn’t be a top option for you. He’ll get a chance to firmly grab the top spot as he’ll be matched up with Gavin Adler this weekend. Joining the players to watch is Cross Ferrera at Salisbury. He’ll be in the running for DIII Player of the Year. He enters this year, his SIXTH, as a two-time Attackman of the Year, and has been a Player of the Year. With a 100-point season (very possible, he’s had 100+ each of the last two years), he’ll be the DIII all-time leader, and he likely takes over the all-time records for most other offensive categories as well. At 6’2, 200, he’s got the size to play pro attack. Six years in, Ferrera has some Stetson Bennett vibes. It’s also possible Dordevic moves to my midfield list, depending on his usage. He almost certainly plays midfield in the pros. I voted him to my Preseason All American ballot as a midfielder because it’s what I consider to be his natural position. With Georgetown off to such a slow start, perhaps they tinker with where some of their weapons play to try and find some chemistry in a hurry. Cormier and Dyson both likely return to school as well, furthering reducing the impact of this attack class. McGovern has been strong for UNC to start the year and could climb into that top five, as could Dickson if emerges as the clear #2 to Shellenberger. The attack list will get turned on its head if some of the talent with remaining eligibility who are seniors, like Pat Kavanagh, decide to enter the draft.
Midfield, Matt Moore Division (Offense first options):
1. Sam Handley, Penn
2. Kyle Long, Maryland
3. Matt Campbell, Villanova
4. Thomas McConvey, Vermont/UVA
5. Patrick Skalniak, Navy
Players to watch: Levi Anderson, Garrett Degnon, Brandon Galloway
Mostly unmoved, with Handley still as the top prize. Longs ability as a passer makes him a very attractive option, as there are no shortage of pros who dodge to shoot, but fewer who effectively feed from the midfield. McConvey’s start with UVA has been what you’d expect, he fits into a role nicely and excels at whatever that role is on a given day. It’s that sort of ability that makes him such an attractive pro. Campbell elevates a bit for me. After a bad shooting day against Yale, I was ready to ding Campbell a bit, because his career percentage is not great. But he was outstanding against Delaware in a win. He’ll always be a volume shooter, and in the PLL that can be a sketchy proposition, but the athleticism and range make him a solid prospect. From the midfield in the PLL, it’s not often that inconsistent and inaccurate shooters stick around a while. I’d like to see Campbell continue to shoot for a better percentage this year and up his draft stock. It’s possible Levi Anderson moves to the attack list, or just drops off completely, as he reportedly has eligibility remaining for another grad year. Joining the list is Brandon Galloway of Jacksonville and UMBC. After four years with UMBC, Galloway is having a big impact for Jacksonville. He’s a 6’1, 200 lb super athletic midfielder. The offense is dealing with the absence of Max Waldbaum, and Galloway is more than picking up the slack. He has 10 points in the first three games. He’s committed just four turnovers and is shooting 50% right now. That’s the profile of a PLL midfielder. If he keeps the level of play where it is now, you’ll hear his name on draft day.
Midfield, Danny Logan Division (Two Way midfielders or true SSDMs):
1. Payton Rezanka, Loyola
2. Brian Tevlin, Yale/Notre Dame
3. Connor Maher, UNC
4. Piper Bond, Penn
5. Trevor Yeboah-Kodie, Brown
Players to watch: Evan Zinn, Chet Comizio, Quinn McCahon, James Shipley, Troy Hettinger
Mostly unmoved. I think this is the group where the most movement could happen though. I still consider Rezanka a clear number one choice. After that though, the shuffle is real. For now, I have moved Tevlin up to the two spot. He’s scoring for the Irish, playing top level SSDM for the Irish, and he’s picking up a pole on man down. Swiss army knives have a spot in the PLL, we know the deal. Short rosters, guys need to be able to do multiple things. Another interesting note coming from Ivy Media Day deals with the number five player here. Trevor Yeboah-Kodie was asked if playing football with his grad eligibility was something he planned on doing, and he said it’s still in the works but doesn’t have a clear answer yet. I think his pro lacrosse ceiling is quite high, but we may have to wait if he decides to pursue the gridiron first. Shipley looks pro ready right now for Penn, he was all over the field in the Georgetown game, and you can see him fitting any roster in the league. Troy Hettinger, another Dolphin, joins the list for the same reason that Tevlin is on it. He’s doing everything for them. A two-way middie who is a jack of all trades, and maybe master of none, should get a pro look.
1. Will Bowen, UNC/Georgetown
2. Gavin Adler, Cornell
3. Brett Makar, Maryland
4. Owen Grant, Delaware
5. Cam Wyers, Loyola
Players to watch: Eljiah Gash, Ethan Rall, Mike Grace, BJ Farrare, Kenny Brower, Alex Mazzone, Tyler Carpenter, Wilson Stephenson, Taylor Jensen
This list stays big because, once again, there is a LOT of talent among the poles this year. Alex Mazzone has been outstanding for Hopkins and has shown the flexibility to play up top and at close. When it comes to PLL prospects, the ability to fill multiple roles is huge. A guy who can do just one thing, regardless of how well he does, will always have a much harder time cracking a roster. You can be a beast of a lefty finisher, but if that’s the ONLY thing you bring, PLL teams will find someone who’s almost as good, but can also dodge and feed. For defenders, this manifests in flexibility with where you play on the field. Also joining the list is RIT’s Taylor Jensen, joining Mike Grace also from RIT. Jensen will be in the mix for LSM of the Year, and possibly player of the year, in DIII. If you want a pole, you want one of the top three guys here. Cam Wyers is anchoring what looks to be an excellent defense for Loyola this year, a surprise to start the season. He could leap past Grant with another few good weeks. BJ Farrare also should be a target for a number of PLL teams. He can play LSM, close, and has played SSDM for Penn. He’s great on wings. He is a jack of all trades player unlike any other in the draft. I’ll also say this on Elijah Gash, since I noted during the Albany/Cuse game that I thought he’d end up a steal in the PLL Draft and was met with some criticism. You can’t do this just googling player sheets and post season awards. You need to watch these guys play. Gash has a level of physical ability and athleticism that few poles in the nation have, and you won’t see that if all you do is check his player bio for awards for height/weight. Giannis came to the NBA as the Greek Freak because of athleticism and physical gifts. He was not even close to a great basketball player yet. It took years. But you take a player who has those physical gifts because the potential is so great and those things are unteachable. That’s what Gash is.
1. Matt Knote, UMass
2. Chayse Ierlan, Cornell
3. Will Mark, LIU/Syracuse
Players to Watch: Liam Entenmann, Danny Hincks
Logan McNaney was excellent against Richmond, saving 80% of the shots he faced. Unfortunately, he drops off the list because he is done for the year with a torn ACL. Terps fans get a silver lining, as I’m told he plans to complete an MBA program at Maryland, so he’ll be back in net for them next year. Otherwise, this goalie class, to me, doesn’t have a clear option that’s better than any current starter in the PLL, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see no goalies taken outside of Entenmann deciding to join the draft.
1. Mike Sisselberger, Lehigh
2. Zach Cole, Saint Joseph’s
3. Petey LaSalla, UVA
Players to watch: James Reilly, Luke Wierman, Nick Rowlett
This list is going to stay this way, possibly with just the two names at the top jockeying for the top spot. You can’t go wrong with either one. Cole is really pushing right now though, his start has been excellent. When he notches some performances against top tier opponents, he'll move up. A story to watch all year will be LaSalla’s health. He has been dealing with a lower body injury, spent some time in a boot, and you can see watching him run at times that he’s just not all the way healthy right now.