Although we have yet to reach the All-Star Weekend, the urgency to discuss the development of rookies in any professional sports league cannot be understated. The evolution of these young talents provides an intriguing narrative, separating those who prove themselves worthy of their draft selection from those who fall short. The current crop of rookies from the 2023 PLL College Draft is riddled with exceptional talent, and it is quite possible that this class will be remembered as one of the finest in PLL history. Even though it may take a few more years to establish this claim, after just three games, certain individuals have already emerged as standouts among their peers. While another rendition of this article will undoubtedly be necessary by the end of the season, the excitement surrounding these players could not be contained to a later date. Here, I highlight the most impressive rookies of the 2023 PLL season thus far.
5) Will Bowen – Chaos
Stats: 4 Caused Turnovers, 9 Groundballs
Many were taken aback when Will Bowen was chosen late in the first round. Multiple mock drafts during his college career projected him as a potential first-overall pick. Fortunately for Head Coach Andy Towers, fate intervened, and Bowen found himself within the Chaos ranks. Now, the Chaos possess a young pole with whom they can pair alongside Rowlett and Neumann. Bowen has showcased his fundamental on-ball defense while also including a heightened level of aggression when necessary. His confidence when sliding all over the field has been impressive, as even his fellow rookie defensemen struggle to match his confidence in defensive schemes.
4) Xander Dickson – Atlas
Stats: 5 Goals, 4 Assists
Xander Dickson has seamlessly fit into the Atlas roster, enhancing their offensive presence even more. The off-ball threat showcased during his tenure at Virginia has seamlessly carried over into the PLL. From his professional debut hat trick against the Redwoods, it became evident that Dickson was a remarkable steal in the second round. Despite concerns surrounding his physical build, his presence off the ball has already resulted in some exceptional goals this season. Moreover, alongside the wealth of offensive weapons at his disposal, Dickson has exhibited his ability as a feeder, accumulating several assists along the way. While I do not envision Dickson reaching All-Star status just yet, he unquestionably embodies the qualities that any team would desire.
3) Tucker Dordevic – Whipsnakes
Stats: 5 Goals, 2 Two-point Goals, 2 Assists
The Whipsnakes unquestionably struck gold by securing Dordevic late in the first round. Concerns loomed regarding his past college tendencies with poor shot selection and turnovers. While he has admirably rectified the turnover issue, committing only one in three games, his shooting percentage (22.6%) still leaves room for improvement. Despite this concern, Dordevic has undoubtedly justified his draft selection. His imposing stature and raw power have seamlessly translated into the PLL, and it is likely that teams who passed on him are now ruing their decisions. With his promising potential, Dordevic will undoubtedly pose a formidable threat for years to come, making an All-Star selection well within his grasp down the line.
2) Mike Sisselberger
Stats: 2 Goals, 1 Assist, 28 Groundballs, 65.4% Faceoff Win Rate
As an avid Archers fan, I felt was initially upset when Sisselberger was chosen with the team’s first-round pick. Personally, I believed the Archers could have secured Tucker Dordevic with their initial selection while still acquiring Sisselberger in the second round. However, Sisselberger has defied my reservations, proving himself as a future All-Star. From day one, he seamlessly fit into the Archers’ locker room, and his impact has translated well on the field. After years of yearning for a reliable faceoff specialist, the Archers finally found their man in Sisselberger.
1) Gavin Adler
Stats: 7 Caused Turnovers, 3 Groundballs
Gavin Adler has proven why he was selected first overall. Amidst a draft summarized by a strong defensive presence, Adler has unmistakably distinguished himself as a premier cover man. Although the other poles have performed respectably, Adler has operated on a higher level altogether. Remarkably, as a rookie, he has displayed lockdown defense against the opposing team’s top attackman. It is entirely plausible that he will earn a well-deserved spot in the All-Star lineup during his inaugural season. While it would be redundant to highlight his height, as he has already overcome any doubts associated with it. I cannot help but wonder if a defenseman of his stature has ever performed at such a level.
The 2023 PLL season has unveiled an exceptional crop of rookies, each leaving an indelible mark on the league. While it is still early to definitively assess their long-term impact, their performances thus far have captivated the lacrosse world.