(Photo Courtesy of L4 Lacrosse/Seth Cianfoni)
Last Friday, Trinity, Ky., senior attackman Gavin Noland announced that he would be staying home and taking his talents to Bellarmine to play for Andy Whitley and the Knights. Noland’s commitment came just over a month after St. Xavier, Ky., attackman Ben Hubbs announced his commitment and joined the Knights’ 2021 recruiting class.
Sitting on opposite sides of one of the biggest and most fierce rivalries in the nation, the pair are highly regarded as two of the top three players in the Bluegrass – period. The third being Hubbs’ running mate at attack for the Tigers, Hillis Burns, who committed to Air Force in mid-September.
Many around the state and familiar with Bellarmine lacrosse believe that the Knights landing these two could turn out to be one of the best recruiting wins any college team has had in the state of Kentucky since Denver snagged St. Xavier’s Chase Carraro, who became one of the top faceoff men in the nation and helped lead the Pioneers to multiple Championship Weekend appearances and an NCAA title in 2015.
In short, keeping these boys home is a game changer for the Knights.
Noland, who stands 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, is more of an off-ball finisher and has shown that he knows how to get open on the inside and finish. He can also take his man-one-on-one from behind the cage or on the wings, and has really developed his passing ability over his high school career thus far.
A lefty, Hubbs is a pure bred shooter and could honestly play attack or midfield at the next level. As more of a catch and shoot outside shooter, Hubbs has some serious range. However, he can also do some damage on the inside as a cutter and finisher, and has further potential as a dodging threat from multiple spots on the field.
Putting both of these players with the skillsets on the field together, which happens in club ball for L4 Lacrosse, can truly be something special. While both will certainly need to continue to develop in the final year of their high school career and early in their college careers, once they get into a college weight program, get settled into the system at Bellarmine, and pickup the speed of the college game, the ceiling for each could be significantly high. And you can already see some signs of how high their ceiling at the college level could be just by how each has improved from year to year in high school.
Furthermore, the commitments of Hubbs and Noland could spark a new and somewhat overdue trend for this Knights program. A trend of keeping some of the top-tier players in the state home. We’ve consistently seen Bellarmine and other SoCon programs go after talent in the region very heavily and be able to keep some absolute gems from running across the Mason-Dixon. And while Bellarmine has done just that in states with much deeper talent pools, like Georgia, in recent years, they haven’t had as much success with some of the top-tier guys in their own backyard. Whether it was not going at a guy hard enough or trying to jump in later than they should have, the Knights have let some talented players leave the state as of recent. But this time, they didn’t. And in Andy Whitley’s first full recruiting cycle, too.