If you’re looking for a list ranking a ‘90s Seattle Mariners slugger, the dude who played Rod Tidwell, Money Mayweather and Elaine Benes’s crush from aerobics class, then you’re in the wrong place.
The juniors on this list have a mere 13 months left on their respective campuses. It seems like yesterday Eamon McAnaney was trademarking the Motor City Hitman nickname. The maturation of these players was sudden. Many entered the season under the legal drinking age, yet are now only a handful of games away from being rising seniors.
The All-Junior Team aims to take a step back and reflect on how we got here. These studs have slightly more than a year of NCAA ball remaining. For the frequenters of LaxPower forums, it’ll fall on deaf ears. "This class is like any other," they will say. "Sergio Perkovic’s shot is not overhand enough." They’re wrong on both accounts.
This class is Bleed for Embiid special. (Er, Riggin’ for Wiggins? Scandal for Randle?) Major League Lacrosse coaches and executives have been excited about it since before this year’s draft -- you know, the one with Myles Jones and Matt Kavanagh. A 2nd and 3rd All-Junior Team could be made from the players omitted from this list include Jake Froccaro, Tyler Pace, Romar Dennis, Colin Heacock, Seth Oakes, Cole Johnson, Josh Byrne, Zach Currier, Brian Sherlock, Shane Simpson, Nick Mariano, Sergio Salcido, John Crawley, Eric Scott, Austin Pifani, Alec Tulett, Ryan Fournier, Chris Fennell, Chris Keating, Jarrod Neumann, Tate Jozokos, Jack Adams, Ben Williams, Stephen Kelly and Sam Talkow.
Dylan Molloy, A, Brown
The D1 leader in points per game (6.33) has already surpassed his assist total from last year (31 assists through nine games). Molloy dodges like a fullback. For those under the age of 16, fullback was a position in American football responsible for hitting the hole before the running back and smashing linebackers in the mouth. Sadly, fullbacks are no longer used in the NFL, although that may be a blessing in disguise -- Molloy (6-0, 220) could probably make it on the gridiron.
Molloy’s numbers are certainly aided by Brown’s uptempo style, and vice versa. Larken Kemp and Alec Tulett justifiably receive a ton of credit for Brown’s success in transition, but you can’t run the field without an elite presence at the point. Molloy’s strong shooting and impeccable decision making give Bruno just that.
Connor Cannizzaro, A, Denver
The only unwatchable aspect of Cannizzaro’s game is that, at times, he runs faster than my eyes can move, which makes him almost literally unwatchable. We already know that Cannizzaro’s decision to transfer from Maryland to Denver has altered one national championship result; when we look back at the end of 2017, we could be looking at a swing of three national championships.
More importantly, that transfer may have provided us with Cannizzaro highlights we would not have seen out of him in College Park. During the UNC-Denver broadcast, Anish Shroff shared an anecdote from a Denver player, expressing his gratitude for offensive coordinator Matt Brown’s "play in the gray" mentality. Offensive schemes are meant to be frameworks for improvisation -- not strict compilations of hard-and-fast rules. When a player as gifted as Cannizzaro is given the tools to succeed (i.e. teammates, coaching and a green light to freestyle when the play breaks down), the results are Tewaaraton-caliber numbers.
Matt Rambo, A, Maryland
Ryan Danehy and Andy Towers mentioned Rambo’s role in Maryland’s offense on the In Your Face LaxCast. His ability to get a shot off on command has a negative impact on his numbers. When the Terrapins look to prevent a referee-imposed shot clock, they ask Rambo to put his shoulder down and fire a shot wide. Swap Rambo with either Molloy, Cannizzaro or Froccaro, and the class’s top recruit would be putting up comparable numbers.
Sergio Perkovic, M, Notre Dame
Perkovic will graduate as the all-time NCAA record holder for "Time, room, BULLSEYE!" calls. Consider it one of those all-time unbreakable records, on par with Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game and Joey Chestnut’s 69 hot dog 4th of July.
Zach Miller, M, Denver
The MJ moves. Oh, the MJ moves! Miller redodges as well as anyone in the country, and perhaps, anyone in history. He bounces away from contact and either re-attacks with a Z-dodge, slides underneath or throws a pass fake that sends you sprinting off the TV screen.
Don’t ever assume for one second that Miller is done dodging until the ball is out of his stick. And don’t ever assume the ball is out of his stick.
Zed Williams, M, Virginia
Zed Williams’ high school goal total is slowly creeping towards Jordan Wolf’s squat max as the statistic most likely to earn a broadcast mention. His game differs from Miller’s but it’s equally slick in execution. Zed doesn’t dodge recklessly, and he doesn’t dodge down his angles. He’s constantly increasing his likelihood of scoring, especially once his shooting motion begins. Sometimes it’s tough to recognize that he’s preparing to shoot; Zed can flick his wrists with his stick at his waist or across his face, beating you with deception rather than velocity.
Kyle Rowe, FO, Duke
Ben Williams and Stephen Kelly were strongly considered here, until I (a) read Patrick McEwen’s face-off rankings and (b) read hard-hitting #analysis from rational, level-headed Syracuse lacrosse fans.
Isaiah Davis-Allen, SSDM, Maryland
I’m still extremely curious about that whole "Find IDA on campus and win free tacos for a month" situation. Were these dining hall tacos or Chipotle tacos? Which is better at this point? Where was IDA found? Was it the film room? I bet it was the film room.
Larken Kemp, LSM, Brown
Kemp’s ability to police passing lanes is unparalleled. He has 78 career caused turnovers in 39 career games; only six players in the country are averaging 2.0+ caused turnovers this season. Even more impressive is the fact that Kemp has more assists (7) than turnovers (6) as a long-stick midfielder.
Nick Fields, D, Johns Hopkins
As Adam Epstein mentioned in his B1G roundup, Fields has shut down Ryan Ambler, Ryan Drenner and Dylan Donahue this spring. Erasing studs from the box score is nothing new for Fields, who ran long-stick midfield as a freshman against then-senior Mike Chanenchuk.
Christian Burgdorf, D, Denver
The Pios don’t rely on defense to win games (or championships), but Burgdorf (6-3, 225) regularly takes care of business and handles his matchup. An honorable mention All-American as a freshman and 2nd Team All-American as a sophomore, it’d be a shock if Burgdorf didn’t continue to climb that list in his final two years at DU.
Matt Rees, D, Navy
Moving Rees to close defense might be cheating a bit. Since moving to long-stick midfield for Navy, Rees has been the premier ballhawk on one of the nation’s best defensive units. He is rapidly approaching last year’s 20CT (sitting at 16CT through nine games), plus has added a scoring punch (5G, 1A) to his game.
Shane Doss, G, Notre Dame
Playing behind Gerry Byrne's defense, Doss’s numbers (6.44 GAA, 59.7 SV%) are expected to be better than most in the country. However, he might have more "signature" saves than anyone in the country besides Maryland senior Kyle Bernlohr. Whenever the Irish defense leans on Doss to make a stop, he delivers.