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2017 NCAA Championship Weekend Preview: Tre Leclaire.

Indiana v Ohio State Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Welcome back to another post for our 2017 NCAA Championship Weekend Preview. You can find all our posts from this week here, including profiles on BOSSES Tillman & Myers, of Maryland & Ohio State, respectively.

Our Championship Weekend coverage began today, as The Kid Chris held it down at Gillette Stadium for Media Day. Here are a few goodies that he shared with the class from the morning session.

We've arrived at Gillette Stadium!

Posted by College Crosse on Friday, May 26, 2017

We’ll have more from Media Day later. For now, let’s get to know OSU star Tre Leclaire a little better. To get us started here’s a highlight reel of Tre playing some box lacrosse when he was in high school.

Tre Leclaire.

Ohio State freshman Tre Claire hails from Surrey, British Columbia in Canada. He helped Team Canada’s U-19 squad get the silver medal in the 2016 U-19 World Championships and was named to the All-World Team after the tournament. Tre came into Columbus with a lot of fanfare, as he was one of the top Canadian recruits from the class of 2016 and a major get for Ohio State. Tre had an OSU connection when he was in high school, as his assistant coach at Delta was Logan Schuss, who graduated from Ohio State in 2013.

One of Leclaire's assistant coaches at Delta is Logan Schuss, who graduated from Ohio State in 2013 and was selected No. 1 overall in that fall's National Lacrosse League draft. He encouraged Leclaire to consider the Buckeyes, and after going on a visit to the campus, Leclaire was pretty much sold. He talked with his parents and decided to make the switch. “We were trying to figure out what's best for me and my future, past lacrosse, looking towards what their academics can give me,” Leclaire said.

While Tre is obviously a fantastic lacrosse player, he grew up as a multi-sport athlete, as he was a standout rugby & basketball player for Elgin Park Secondary in high school.

Freshman Phenom.

Tre started out his freshman year coming off the bench for the first five games of his OSU career. While he wasn’t getting starter’s minutes initially, he was making his presence known on the field. Tre scored 2 goals his very first game for the Buckeyes vs Furman, scored another two goals in his second game versus Detroit Mercy, and a goal and an assist in his 3rd game versus UMass. He only had 1 assist in his 4th game versus Jacksonville, but had a breakout game against Marquette when he put up a hat-trick and an assist versus the Golden Eagles. After the Marquette game, coach Myers saw enough and put him in the starting line-up for the rest of the season.

Tre showed that Myers made the right decision in inserting him in the starting line-up by continuing his strong play once he was put into the starting lineup. Leclaire averaged 2 points/game in his next three games versus Bellarmine, Cleveland State, & Towson. However, it was his game versus Denver when Tre really made his national debut.

The Buckeyes were 8-0 going into the Denver game, but were seen as significant underdogs in the run up to OSU’s game versus the Pios. While the Buckeyes were 8-0 on the season before they played BOSS Tierney’s boys, they only played one top 20 opponent (Towson) before their game versus Denver. The Pioneers were ranked #1 at the time and many felt that OSU’s nice 8-game win streak would come to an end versus the Pios.

Well, as the Buckeyes demonstrated on that March 19th afternoon, you shouldn’t ever listen or pay attention to the pundits. Ohio State stomped on Denver and Tre blew up in a big way in the game. Leclaire dropped 5 goals on the Pioneers and also had 2 assists as well, to give him 7 points to help lead the Buckeyes to a 16-7 win over Denver. The win shocked the lacrosse world (Ed. Note: Except me, as I picked OSU), as this was the first sign that the Buckeyes were for real.

Ohio State’s 9-game win streak would come to an end the next week versus Notre Dame, but Tre continued his strong non-conference play with 4 goals against the Fighting Irish. Despite the loss, OSU was still in the top 10 as many people finally started to realize Ohio State was one of the best teams in the country.

B1G Time Player.

Tre scored 2 goals in a losing effort versus Penn State in his first game versus a Big Ten opponent. The back-to-back losses took some of the shine off of OSU’s great 9-0 start, but the Buckeyes bounced back with a three game win streak over Michigan, Johns Hopkins, & Maryland.

Tre had his best game during this stretch against Michigan, when he went off for 8 points (3 Gs & 5 As). However, the young freshman struggled against Hopkins & Maryland as he only had one point combined in both games. Some of that might have to do with the Freshman Wall many young players hit late in their first season, but a lot of that also had to do with the fact opposing defenses started to game plan to stop Tre. This focus on Leclaire helped his other teammates, though, as was in the case in the Hopkins game when Jack Jasinski came off the bench to drop 7 points on the Jays (4 Gs & 3 As).

After two pedestrian games versus Hopkins & Maryland, Tre responded with in a big way against Rutgers with 6 points (4 Gs & 2 As) in OSU’s last regular season game of the year. While the Buckeyes lost that game in overtime, the performance against the Scarlet Knights was a sign of good things to come.

In the first round of the Big Ten Tournament, 2 seed Ohio State faced off against 3 seed Johns Hopkins. After being limited to only 1 goal against Hopkins in the regular season, Leclaire shredded the Hopkins defense for 6 goals to propel OSU into the title game. Ohio State beat Hopkins by a final score of 15-13, as Leclaire played a massive role in the game. Tre scored 4 of OSU’s first six goals, and added his 5th goal late in the second quarter to help OSU go into halftime with a 10-5 lead.

Leclaire continued his strong Big Ten Tournament play by scoring 4 points (3 Gs & 1 A) versus the Terps in the Big Ten Tournament championship game. Ohio State ended up losing the game 10-9, but Leclaire’s good game was impressive, especially considering Maryland held the freshman scoreless in the regular season match-up versus Ohio State.

Tournament Time.

Ohio State received a 3 seed on Selection Sunday. They were matched-up with a feisty Loyola team that made last year’s Final Four. While the game was defensive struggle, Ohio State prevailed over the Greyhounds 7-4. Leclaire played a big role in the win as he scored three goals to lead the Buckeyes in scoring. Leclaire’s two second half goals helped keep the Hounds at bay, as Loyola crept within one goal two times in the third quarter. Leclaire scored a goal shortly after each Loyola goal that got the Hounds within one of the Buckeyes. While lacrosse is obviously a team sport, Leclaire’s strong play versus the Greyhounds helped to prevent any upset hopes Loyola had going into the game.

Leclaire didn’t have his best game versus Duke in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, but it really didn’t matter as the Buckeyes torched the Blue Devils 16-11 in a game that was much more of a beatdown than the final score indicated. Leclaire was held to only 1 goal in the game versus Duke, but his teammates, like fellow Buckeyes star Eric Fannel (5 Gs & 2 As), stepped up to pick up the slack.

All-Everything Honors.

With one game definitely left and another one potentially on Monday, Tre sits at second on team in total points (59) behind Eric Fannell (63). Tre has 45 goals and 14 assists on the season. Obviously, those numbers could potentially go up with the Tigers on deck tomorrow and a potential game on Memorial Day.

His performance this season was good enough to receive the Big Ten Freshman of the Year award. Over the course of the season Leclaire was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week 3 times. Not bad for a kid who didn’t even start until nearly 1/3rd of the season.

I expect Leclaire and his fellow Buckeyes to put on a show in their game versus Towson tomorrow. If Tre can continue his stellar play, you might very well see the Buckeyes running around with the trophy on Monday afternoon.