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PLL Collegiate Draft: Results and Reactions

The Premier Lacrosse League aired its PLL Collegiate Draft on Tuesday night (early Wednesday morning in most locations across the country due to time zone differences). The event, originally filmed Monday night, followed an incredible Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Las Vegas Golden Knights and the San Jose Sharks that saw the Sharks win in overtime. Combine that with Damian Lillard’s buzzer-beating three-pointer to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the NBA playoffs and you’ve got a great night for sports.

While it may not have been ideal for the PLL Collegiate Draft to be held so late at night — it was 2:00 a.m. on the East Coast before the draft even aired —there was still considerable hype around the draft, even in the wee hours of the morning. It could be argued that the draft was held at a great time, especially considering it immediately followed such high-interest, high-profile events. Hopefully, the league got what it needed out of the event to help the league continue to flourish.

Here’s how the draft worked:

  • Each club had four picks

  • The draft order was selected at random and reversed each round until draft is complete

  • Eligible players must currently be in their senior season

  • No current picks can be traded for picks in a future draft

  • No trading of players already on rosters for draft picks

This was the draft order:

  1. Archers

  2. Atlas

  3. Chrome

  4. Whipsnakes

  5. Redwoods

  6. Chaos

While the PLL Collegiate Draft show, in my mind, has a way to go before it can be compared to the likes of an NFL or NBA draft in terms of the quality of the production, this was a major step forward for the appearance and exposure of a professional lacrosse league. It was an interesting idea to have each of the coaches provide instant analysis of their picks — sort of making things feel too staged and rehearsed — and was obvious that some coaches were more skilled at being on-camera than others. Nevertheless, it was an overall entertaining program that was well-executed minus the inconvenience of the delay in airing the production.

Here were the results from the four rounds of the draft:

First-Round Results

1. Pat Spencer (Loyola) – Archers 

No surprises here. The No. 3 all-time leader in points in NCAA Men’s Division I Lacrosse was a sure pick for the No. 1 spot in the PLL. Spencer was also drafted by the Chesapeake Bayhawks in the MLL Collegiate Draft with the No. 7 overall pick. It has been speculated that Spencer was selected so low in the MLL draft because of fears that he wouldn’t play in the MLL and would choose to enter the PLL instead. There have been also rumors circulating that Spencer would potentially enter the NCAA Basketball transfer portal to use his final year of athletic eligibility, which would mean Spencer wouldn’t play pro lacrosse at all this year. While it could be a risk for these teams in both leagues to use a high draft pick on Spencer, picking the 2019 Tewaaraton winner at No. 1 was a move that had to be done for the PLL to at least make the statement that they intend on taking the best lacrosse players coming out of college.

2. Ryan Conrad (Virginia) – Atlas

The PLL Collegiate Draft seemed to be heavily focused on picking premier defenders and midfielders that could play both ways. Ryan Conrad seemed like a natural fit for the Atlas Lacrosse Club. The Virginia senior has registered 14 goals and 17 assists, while also amassing 64 ground balls and seven caused turnovers.

A big reason why versatility is going to be a major factor is because of the potentially-reported 45-second shot clock that will exist in the PLL. Players are not going to have enough time to sub-in-and-out to get offensive and defensive personnel on the field. Having players that can play two ways is going to be critical.

3. Zach Goodrich (Towson) – Chrome

Zach Goodrich is the first of two Towson players selected in the first round of the PLL draft, which is a good thing for the league because Towson is producing quality players. It is also a good thing for Towson because it helps show that the Tigers have re-legitimized themselves in the college ranks over the last few years.

Goodrich is another athletic midfielder, standing at 6-feet 2-inches and 200 pounds, who can be a great asset on the defensive end.

4. Alex Woodall (Towson) – Whipsnakes

Alex Woodall is one of the most dominant faceoff men in the country, only coming in behind NCAA-leading TD Ierlan in faceoff win percentage in the entire country. Woodall, who has posted a .745 winning percentage this season, is a big, physical and athletic faceoff man who will be able to withstand the rigors that the PLL rules will undoubtedly put him through.

Woodall was one of the few specialists picked in the PLL Collegiate Draft, which was dominated by a desire for versatility, as we previously mentioned. Woodall went No. 1 in the MLL draft.

5. Clarke Petterson (Cornell) – Redwoods

Clarke Petterson is a great offensive threat and has been helping Cornell to its current No. 9 ranking in the Inside Lacrosse Media Poll. The Big Red senior has scored 40 goals and assisted 15 more, all while shooting 60 percent on the season. Petterson looks to be an investment in the future of the team as he may not see immediate playing time given Redwoods LC’s current roster.

6. Johnny Surdick (Army) – Chaos

Johnny Surdick looks to be a great pick for the Chaos. Surdick is currently tied for fourth in caused turnovers in the NCAA with 30. For a team with a name like “Chaos” that is likely to mix things up and have a reputation for mayhem, having a defender who can create turnovers and lock down opponents is a wise PR move.

Surdick got a lot of attention after his stick check on Loyola’s Pat Spencer, sending Spencer’s stick flying and leaving him wondering what exactly had just happened.

Second-Round Results

  1. Jack Rowlett (North Carolina) – Chaos
  2. Tyler Dunn (Penn) – Redwoods
  3. Brad Smith (Duke) – Whipsnakes
  4. Chris Sabia (Penn State) – Chrome
  5. Cade Van Raaphorst (Duke) – Atlas
  6. Curtis Corley (Maryland) – Archers

Third-Round Results

  1. Colton Jackson (Denver) – Archers
  2. Noah Richard (Marquette) – Atlas
  3. Max Tuttle (Sacred Heart) – Chrome
  4. Isaac Paparo (UMass) – Whipsnakes
  5. Brendan Gleason (Notre Dame) – Redwoods
  6. Greyson Torain (Navy) – Chaos

Fourth-Round Results

  1. Austin Henningsen (Maryland) – Chaos
  2. Tim Troutner (High Point) – Redwoods
  3. John Daniggelis () – Whipsnakes
  4. Connor Farrell (Long Island Post) – Chrome 
  5. Brent Noseworthy (Michigan) – Atlas
  6. John Prendergast (Duke) – Archers

As we mentioned, versatility and defense were largely the motivating factors in this year’s PLL Collegiate Draft. The league is already loaded with offensive talent, which means that guys like Daniel Bucaro (Georgetown), James Burr (Boston) and Brendan Sunday (Towson) get passed on being selected.

Unfortunately for players like these, the PLL won’t be taking them this season, and the MLL most likely will not either. The MLL has already held its collegiate draft, and from what we understand from our interview with Sandy Brown on the state of the MLL, players currently in the league and those already drafted will be picked up in a dispersal draft that is guaranteed to provide each MLL player at least a spot in training camp.

However, because of the fact that things are getting crowded in both the PLL and MLL, it means a lot of talented players could be getting left out of the professional picture. Especially considering the increasing parity in college lacrosse, it is best from a player’s perspective if both leagues do well and expand, thus allowing more capable players to be drafted from the college ranks.

Bottom line, I was happy to see the PLL Collegiate Draft go well. I think a strong PLL and a strong MLL are both good for the sport of lacrosse. Hopefully, room exists for both professional leagues to be successful and we’ll see some major growth for the sport.