(Photo Courtesy of Lacrosse Club Orlando)
Joe Breschi and the North Carolina Tar Heels made a big splash on Sunday evening as Lake Mary (Fla.) junior midfielder Caden Harshbarger announced his commitment to the Tar Heels.
Harshbarger also considered Duke, Maryland, and Princeton before pulling the trigger on the Tar Heels.
With his commitment, North Carolina has five players in its 2024 class. Harshbarger is the second big time offensive weapon to verbal to the Tar Heels this weekend as Culver (Ind.) attackman Luke Macaluso announced his commitment on Saturday.
“UNC has always been a dream school of mine growing up,” Harshbarger told Lacrosse Bucket. “It’s cool that I get to say I’m going to Chapel Hill for college.”
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound righty is vaunted as one of the best midfielders of the cycle. He is rated as a five-star and ranked as the No. 9 overall player in the class of 2024 by Inside Lacrosse. Harshbarger was also one of 20 players I pegged as the best from the South of the ’24 cycle.
One of the best overall athletes in class, Harshbarger proves to be a threat each and every time he steps on the field. A big time dodger, the bread and butter of his game are his righty alley dodges. Possessing a quick first step and tremendous overall speed, Harshbarger is able to use that to his advantage and regularly leaves defenders in the dust before ripping off a shot on the run. In addition to his strong dodging ability, he is also able to make that extra pass for a score almost anywhere and can also be an impact on the faceoff wings and defense if needed.
Harshbarger is coming off a sophomore season last spring in which he put up 79 points off 44 goals and 35 assist to help lead the Rams to a 19-3 record and a regional final appearance.
“I’m more of an initiator. I can draw a slide with my speed and that’s how the [UNC] coaching staff wants to use me. Create slides for pure scorers while also getting mine when it comes to me.”
A dual-sport athlete, Harshbarger also plays football for Lake Mary as a wide receiver. Through four games, he leads the Rams at the position with 16 receptions for 297 yards and three touchdowns. Two of his touchdowns came two weeks ago against rival Lake Brantley, which produced former Maryland star and 2021 Tewaaraton winner Jared Bernhard; to whom Harshbarger is often compared.
“Football has only done good for me,” Harshbarger said. “(It) helps with footwork along with giving me extra grit. Football is a tough sport and gives me an advantage on the lacrosse field.”
Heading into his junior season, Harshbarger has one goal in mind: bring home a state championship to Lake Mary. As for right now, he said he is focused on football and helping his team finishing out with a winning record.
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