(Photo: Anderson Moore/Instagram)
In just three days, the flood gates will open for the 2023 class as the contact period for college coaches to contact juniors begins at midnight on September 1st.
After focusing on watching and analyzing as much of the 2023s below the Mason-Dixon line as possible via film and in-person when possible, here is a look at my big board, or players to watch as far as Southern 2023s go once the contact period opens.
*Note: 1.) This is not a ranking and only includes players who I have seen play, at least, a full game either in-person or on film this year. 2.) This is not my entire big board and only includes the three-deep, at the least, for most positions. 3.) This list doesn’t includes already committed players, whether they reclassified or committed to a service academy once that contact period opened in July.*
Here’s a position-by-position look at the big board:
Jack Schulte, A, St. Andrew’s (Fla.) – After making a name for himself as a freshman during the shortened 2020 season, and further proved himself as one of the top attackmen in the Sunshine State this past season. Schulte led a 16-0 Scots state championship squad with 40 goals and 18 assists for 58 points during the spring 2021 season. Schulte has shown the ability to get to the cage and put the ball in the back of the cage from all over the field, but he has also shown a great willingness in the riding game at times.
Alex Lobel, A, Roswell (Ga.) – Playing alongside fellow Junior in Hill Plunkett (Army), Lobel helps make up an exciting Hornets’ attack line. The lefty etched his name into the 100 club this spring for career points as he continued to showcase his ability to put the ball in the back of the cage at will as one of the best scorers in the region. It won’t be shocking if he isn’t on the board for long.
Niko Karetsos, A, Pace Academy (Ga.) – The lefty has earned a reputation as one of the best shooters in the Peach State and the South, in general. Karetsos will get the ball in the back of the net anyway he can. Whether he is dodging from behind or on the wings or playing off-ball, he knows how to exploit the defense and get the ball in the cage, and he isn’t afraid to get creative either. He has also shown some tremendous quarterbacking skills as a feeder. He is another one that might not be on the board long at all with the performance he has put together thus far.
Maddox Johnson, M/A, Ponte Vedra (Fla.) – Johnson has been a known commodity for what feels like a lifetime at this point. The lefty came onto the scene as a freshman with the Sharks during the shortened 2020 season and has only seemed to impress more and more since. A threat up top and one of the best on-the-run shooters in the region, Johnson is one of the better playmakers I’ve seen in this class and looks to have the tools to translate that to the college level.
Nigel Vital, M, Pine Crest (Fla.) – Perhaps nobody has improved and seen their stock rise as much as Vital has this past spring and summer. A true two-way player, Vital has been an impactful player in transition with his speed while also having one heck of an outside shot. Coming off a sophomore campaign in which he had 35 points off 26 goals four assists, and added 25 ground balls, Vital has plenty of upside and room for growth, especially on offense.
Jordan Faison, M, Pine Crest (Fla.) – Playing alongside Vital for the Panthers, Faison is the more accomplished and proven member of that midfield duo. Lacking in overall size, the midfielder has both the speed and quickness to make up for it. Pine Crest’s top offensive weapon, he put up 74 points off 37 goals and 37 assists last season while also grabbing 36 ground balls. Having the ability to be a great two-way player, has shown to be a threat all over on the offensive end and knows how to put the ball on the ground on the defensive end.
Ezekiel Lomax, M, Salisbury (Conn.) – After starting his high school career at McCallie (Tenn.) and then playing with Harrison (Ga.) this past season, the 6-foot-4, 215-pound midfielder will be taking his talents north this year to play for national power Salisbury. Lomax stands out at first just due to his size, but he has the athleticism and skills to go with it, providing a matchup nightmare for most defenses.
Donny Scott, D, The Hill Academy (Ont.) – A Georgia native, Scott traveled north of the border following his freshman season to play for the Brodie Merrill and The Hill Academy. The 6-foot, 180-pound defenseman has all the tools necessary to translate and continue to grow his game at the next level. Scott is as tough and aggressive as an on-ball defender as you’ll see. He certainly isn’t afraid to get physical and knows exactly how to use that to his advantage, causing nightmares for opposing offenses.
Jackson Campisano, D/LSM, St. Xavier (Ky.) – Campisano is likely the best athlete currently playing lacrosse in the Bluegrass. A great ground ball and transition guy, he knows how to put the ball on the carpet at an impressive rate and knows how to use his body very well. If anyone from Kentucky will get DI interest in this class, it’s Campisano.
Owen McAllister, D/LSM, Charlotte Catholic (N.C.) – The 5-foot-10, 150-pound pole is one of the most versatile players I have been able to see in this class. McCallister is a strong on-ball defender and takeaway artist at close, serving pest for opposing offensive players. He is also very solid off the ground, knows how to spark transition, and win the middle of the field. McCallister also took a few faceoffs when needed this past spring.
Anderson Moore, G, Briarwood Christian (Ala.) – Believe it or not, the Heart of Dixie has produced one of the best and most intriguing players in the class. Moore made 230 saves with a 71.9% save percentage during the spring season as a sophomore and continued finding similar success throughout the summer. Moore is consistent, poised, and has the ability to go down as the best player ever out of the state of Alabama.
Brayson “Goose” Wilson, G, Cannon School (N.C.) – Leading Cannon to an NCISAA quarterfinal appearance, Wilson certainly made a name for himself this past spring, if he hadn’t already. The 5-foot-8, 160-pound goalkeeper isn’t the biggest, but he plays with as much heart and hustle as you’ll see. His ability to stifle offenses on the regular and make some of the wildest saves has earned him high regard amongst the best in the Tar Heel State and South in general.
Ben Abel, G, Highland Park (Texas) – Anchoring a tough Highland Park defense as a sophomore, Abel helped lead the Scots to an THSLL state title game and emerged as one of the best goalies in the state and region this past season. Showing the ability to be a consistent presence in cage and come up huge on an almost nightly basis, he impressed each and every time I was able to get my eyes on him. He not only looks comfortable in between the pipes and can make life very difficult for the opposing offense.
Jack Spellman, FO, Montgomery Bell (Tenn.) – Probably the most under-the-radar player on this list, I was able to watch Spellman multiple times last season and came away impressed after each performance. He went 36-for-60 (60%) at the dot while also grabbing 16 ground balls during the 2021 season to help lead the Big Red to a Tennessee state title.
Rogan Kane, Faceoff, Plant (Fla.) – Kane was huge for the Panthers this spring, and proved to be the X-factor for his team multiple times this season. He went 269-for-369 (72%) as the Panthers’ primary option at the dot this spring and helped lead them to a semifinal appearance.