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Under the Radar Players: Division 1 Men’s Lacrosse

Last spring, we witnessed a handful of underclassmen rise to the occasion making impactful contributions to their collegiate programs. Five-star recruits such as Griffin Schutz (Virginia), Andrew McAdorey (Duke), and Bobby Van Buren (Ohio State) were known quantities, but we also saw under recruited players like AJ Pilate (Army) and Brad Sharp (Yale) make a name for themselves. All five players played massive roles for their Division 1 Men’s Lacrosse programs during their freshman seasons, and they’ll be expected to repeat their success this spring. 

When I wrote this article last year I highlighted Brad Sharp as my preseason penny stock. The slick attackman from Palos Verdes, California brought a unique swagger that hasn’t been seen in New Haven since Matt Gaudet graduated in 2020. Sharp started all 17 games and finished first amongst Yale midfielders with a balanced 36 points (19G /7A), and he was one of five sophomores to be recognized as an US Lacrosse D1 Men’s Preseason All-American. It’s safe to say Sharp exceeded expectations. 

But what about the next group of up-and-comers? I previewed a handful of underclassmen I expected to boom last year, and I decided to write a similar article ahead of the 2023 season. I modified my previous rules by including a pair of junior transfers who missed time due to injury. Aside from that small caveat, I excluded five-star recruits and limited IL top-100 players. 

Russell Melendez

Attack/Midfield – Johns Hopkins – Junior

A transfer from Marquette, Melendez brings a new dynamic to the Blue Jays offense. The 6 foot attackman brings size and athleticism as a dodging threat at X. There’s an open competition for the third starting attack spot alongside Jacob Angelus and Garret Degnon, but it’s hard to imagine Melendez not being the frontrunner. The Annapolis native posted 10 points (5G/5A) during his three games before a season-ending injury. Melendez is healthy, and reports suggest he showed well in Hopkins’ fall scrimmages against Fairfield and UMBC. Melendez could be the much-needed playmaking attackman that Hopkins fans have dreamt of for years. 

Connor Davis

Attack – Bucknell – Sophomore

Davis didn’t exactly fly under-the-radar as a freshman, but he’s worth including as an underrecruited player in the Patriot League. Bucknell doesn’t receive the same attention from the press as other PL foes, but Davis could provide reason to change. Davis, who was named Patriot League rookie of the year, led the Bison in scoring and finished 9th in the NCAA with 3.21 goals per game. He’s a pure scorer – a dangerous outside shooter who is developing as an inside finisher. Davis needs to develop more as a feeder in order to elevate his game, but he has the potential to be the next superstar Patriot League attackman.  

Trey Brown

LSM – Boston University – Sophomore

Is it fair to call Boston University LSMU? 

The Terriers are quickly gaining a track record for producing elite LSM’s. Last year, Roy Meyer earned First-Team All-American honors, and Reece Eddy was drafted ninth overall by Chrome LC in 2020. Brown has the potential to be the next dominant LSM on Comm Ave. Don’t be fooled by his 6”0 185 lbs frame, Brown is a physical presence who’s developing a reputation for open field hits. 

Roy Meyer slid back to close defense due to injury towards the end of the 2022 season. If Meyer returns to his natural position, Boston University could return one of the best LSM duos in the nation. 

Aidan O’Neil

Attack – Richmond – Freshman

Coach Chemotti landed a huge flip just before NLI signing day with Aidan O’Neil’s commitment. The former Utah commit operates best working inside and around GLE as a finisher, and he’s also a proven feeder. In his senior season at Tabor Academy, O’Neill led the ISL in goals (76) and points (113) while being the only 100-point scorer in 2022. The physical lefty will have an opportunity to win a starting spot with Ryan Lanchbury and Ryan Dunn gone. A big year could be on the horizon for O’Neil. 

Ellison Burt-Murray

Midfield – Hampton – Junior

The crafty midfielder from Atlanta struggled to produce in Milwaukee, but it wasn’t because of a lack of talent. The former three-star recruit is headed south to join Chazz Woodson’s program in year one in the CAA conference. Burt-Murray adds speed and athleticism to the Pirates offense, and he should have no trouble finding playing time. Burt-Murray is expected to play a big role in earning Hampton their first D1 win.

Nick Caccamo

Defenseman – Syracuse – Sophomore

The former top-50 IL recruit and Yale transfer broke out during his freshman season with the Orange. Caccamo Ranked 13th nationally in caused turnovers per game (1.77) and was second in the ACC. He also led the team with 24 caused turnovers and picked up 39 groundballs, first among ‘Cuse close defensemen in 2022. It’s a bit head scratching why he wasn’t a day one starter on Coach Pietramala’s scheme, but he’s certainly made a name for himself. Caccamo has all the attributes to become a true No.1 defenseman in the ACC, which Syracuse has lacked since Nick Mellen graduated in 2020. Don’t be surprised if he ends up being one of the best defensive players in Division 1 Men’s Lacrosse.