Welcome to the Lax All Stars 2021 PLL Rookie Spotlights series!
The PLL College Draft was held April 26, introducing 32 players into the PLL fold. The league’s training camp is set for May 28 through June 3 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts, to determine the final rosters of the eight teams for the 2021 campaign.
Not all 32 of these players will make a team, but right now, the dream is alive for them all. We’re counting down the days until the PLL opens up its training camp by delving deep into every player selected in the 2021 PLL College Draft, with two players included in each post, with help from Ryder Cochrane, Ryan Conwell, Nick Zoroya, and Nick Pietras.
Next up: Mac O’Keefe and Jared Bernhardt.
2021 PLL Rookie Spotlights: Mac O’Keefe & Jared Bernhardt
School: Penn State
Who drafted him & when: Mac O’Keefe was selected No. 6 overall by Chaos LC.
Is this about where he was expected to go: Yes. The all-time NCAA goals leader does not come along in the draft every year. Mac O’Keefe was absolutely going to be taken in the first round by someone.
What are the main skills he brings to the team: Mac O’Keefe is a bona fide scorer in every sense of the word. While his final season in State College did not produce the numbers we had become accustomed to (nearly half of his lowest previous full season), he also showed in the past how well he works when surrounded with the right pieces and doesn’t need to be all things in the offense.
How’s the fit: This is an interesting question with Mac O’Keefe for the Chaos. In breaking the NCAA record, he joins the following PLL-era players in the top 10: Justin Guterding, Zack Greer, Connor Fields, Dylan Molloy, Miles Thompson, and Wes Berg. What jumps out to me is the fact that Thompson and Berg are both on Chaos right now, Fields was until his rocky 2020 Championship Series, and Molloy was left undrafted in the MLL Entry Draft and not slated for a camp roster. Now, those players all have extremely different styles from O’Keefe, but I think it’s important to note that scoring totals alone should not draw you to any conclusions over how their pro career will go.
Who’s the competition & what are the odds he makes the team: Chaos is loaded with offensive talent right now. There is only one ball, but Mac O’Keefe may be able to carve out a spot as a pure shooter on this team surrounded by players who love to dodge and create. But, as mentioned in the previous section, there are other scorers already on the squad. Most notably, his direct competition would appear to be Chris Cloutier and Miles Thompson. But Chaos does not have a huge number at attack, so the odds that O’Keefe gets a real shot, especially as a first round pick, are extremely high.
Who drafted him & when: Jared Bernhardt was selected No. 19 overall (Round 3, Pick 3) by Chaos LC.
Is this about where he was expected to go: I’m just going to say no, but also yes. Jared Bernhardt is a player that has first rounder written all over him. What complicates things is that he has said that he plans on playing football following this year at Maryland. So, barring some unforeseen change, he will not be playing in the PLL this summer. This means that while he has the talent, with such a small draft, it was not a lock that he would be picked. But it makes sense to take a shot on him. Chaos head coach Andy Towers did the exact same thing a year ago with Jeff Teat. It was possible that Teat would leave Cornell in 2020 but not a lock. So, Towers seems like the coach willing to take a risk for major talent when it’s available. His reward? Rights to Bernhardt for two years.
What are the main skills he brings to the team: Jared Bernhardt is a complete player. He plays great off-ball, can finish, can feed, and can dodge. He’s been truly unguardable for certain games this year. You name it, he does it.
How’s the fit: With a skill set as versatile as Jared Bernhardt’s, fitting in is not a problem. He’s played with great players while at Maryland, and his role has shifted over time. That’s great news for Chaos, because there’s no promise that this roster will look the same in a year (can we hope for some more expansion?).
Who’s the competition & what are the odds he makes the team: There’s not really any competition to consider right now, because he’s not expected to play this summer. And forecasting a year from now is even more difficult, so I’ll just say pass for now.
More PLL Rookie Spotlights
There will be plenty of PLL Rookie Spotlights to check out between now and the start of training camp. You can find information about the incoming rookie class here.