Top American Prospects Ahead of 2020 NLL Entry Draft

PHOTO BY PEYTON WILLIAMS


The American movement in the National Lacrosse League has been slow and steady, but it continues to surge forward. New American field stars are making the jump the box lacrosse during the winter at a rapid pace, and more of them are making an impact each season.

Lacrosse fans know about Tom Schreiber and his contributions with the Toronto Rock. Many have seen the likes of Trevor Baptiste, Matt Rambo and Blaze Riorden light it up for the Philadelphia Wings. Veterans like Brett Manney, Greg Downing and Joel White have become mainstays in the NLL.

Now, with the NLL Draft just over 24 hours away, box lacrosse fans are talking about the next wave of American talent. A group of American college and professional players may hear their names called on Thursday night, some of whom could make an immediate impact and others than will play out their final season in NCAA lacrosse.

With the league continuing to expand, more opportunities will be available for American lacrosse players. Not to mention, the PLL Championship Series gave NLL general managers a chance to focus solely on field prospects.

“It was awesome for them to see the talent in the PLL, so it’s great for those names to get to these coaches,” said U.S. national team and former New York Riptide coach Regy Thorpe. “They want more Americans in the NLL, but they have to be resilient and keep on battling.”

Thorpe spoke with US Lacrosse Magazine about the potential of some of the top American prospects.

Mac O’Keefe
Penn State | Orangeville Northmen

O’Keefe is certainly known for his ability to find the back of the cage at Penn State, scoring 189 goals in three-plus seasons at Happy Valley. However, he’s taken the box game seriously during his college career, spending the 2017 season with the Orangeville Northmen and dropping 15 goals and 18 assists.

“He took the time to go up to Ontario over the summer to play for one of most storied franchises in Junior A,” Thorpe said. “He’s a lefty, so he’d be a good pick up for franchises that want to own his rights even though he’s going into his fifth year. We wanted to get him as part of the process of our indoor team, but with him still in college and it being his last year, he wanted to focus on that.”

Grant Ament
Penn State | Archers LC

Ament was one of the best players in recent NCAA lacrosse history, wrapping his career with 191 assists and 93 goals in his four years with Penn State. Just months later, he took the PLL by storm, dropping 20 points on six goals and 14 assists for Archers LC.

The talent is undeniable for Ament, but how does he fit into an NLL roster?

“He has great vision. He’s a great playmaker and a great quarterback,” Thorpe said. “In the NLL, I think he could turn into a great transition guy and some odd-man rushes in transition. He could be on a transition line, or I think he’s talented enough to play front door if people invest the time in him. If you look at Tom Schreiber, he didn’t have a ton of box experience, but if you invest the time in him, he could have a great opportunity to be a front door guy. He could play all over the floor. He’s going to be on a lot of team’s lists for this draft.”







Bryan Costabile
Notre Dame | Atlas LC

Costabile, a U.S. U19 national team alum, became one of the top middies in college lacrosse while at Notre Dame. His physical style and ability to finish stood out in South Bend, and led him to the Premier Lacrosse League in 2020.

There, Costabile stood out with multiple goals in transition, some of the highlight-reel variety. In total, he finished with six goals in the Championship Series. With little to no box experience, Costabile’s draft stock hinges on his potential as a transition threat.

“He brings a lot of grit. He could be a great fit for the NLL,” Thorpe said. “He’s certainly talented, but he could fit into anyone’s system. He could play front door and back door, he could play transition. He’s a utility guy that could help out. Joel White is a different player, but he’s also athletic and gritty and can score in transition and play offense and defense. As far as a comparison, he could be a guy that could play both ends of the floor really well. Not his size, but like a Kiel Matisz.”

Michael Sowers
Princeton

Sowers is one of a few current college players garnering attention from the NLL. For the current Duke star, the appeal is obvious — he’s one of the most talented players to ever play men’s college lacrosse.

He totaled 302 points in three-plus seasons with the Tigers, making him the school’s all-time leading scorer and second in NCAA history in points per game. His play-making ability could translate to any discipline.

“The guy is just a machine. What an athlete,” Thorpe said. “He’s a thoroughbred. He’s a guy that can play anywhere at any position in the NLL. He’s going to hear his name called and someone is going to protect his rights for after Duke. Super athletic, good off the ground, can put the ball in the net, can get to the cage, can distribute the ball and he’s got a motor that fits the NLL.”

Ryan Terefenko
Ohio State

Terefenko, the do-it-all middie for Ohio State, is the school’s active career leader in ground balls with 139. He’s a three-time All-American at SSDM and has chipped in 15 goals and 19 assists.

He boasts little box experience (although his Ohio State team did faceoff with the U.S. national team in Columbus scrimmage in 2018), but he’s a potential big pay-off for NLL teams if he chooses to try the league out.

“That guy is a machine,” Thorpe said. “He’s the gem of the draft as far as that type of player. His style of play, he’ll go high in the draft for a team to keep his rights. He would be an unbelievable ball team guy and he’d excel in transition. He could create a lot of odd-man rushes in the NLL for sure.”

Charlie Kitchen
Delaware | Toronto Beaches

Kitchen has poured in the goals at Delaware, but has fallen under the radar on the national level. He scored 118 goals in three-plus seasons with the Blue Hens and will return to campus for 2021.

Another benefit for Kitchen is his experience playing Junior A with the Toronto Beaches in 2019, where he tallied 41 points in 17 games.

“He’s making the commitment to play Juniors in Canada,” Thorpe said. “It gives him a little experience and a little edge there.”

More Americans with NLL Potential

JT Giles-Harris, Duke

Matt McMahon, Penn/Archers LC

TD Ierlan, Yale

Jesse Bernhardt, Maryland | Whipsnakes LC

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