2025 Southern Preseason Watchlist

(Photo: Steele Croom/Instagram )

The high school season is just around the corner, getting underway in late February/early-March in the South. Per usual, many eyes will be on sophomores as they will be the next crop to enter the recruiting process in a little under eight months when September 1st, 2023 rolls around.

Here is a look at some of those players in the class of 2025 to keep your eyes out for this spring. As I did a year ago, this list will be updated at midseason as well as season’s end. I will put out my full Southern Big Board of top players from the South around September 1st.

*Reminder: This list only includes players playing in the South, so players from the region playing at prep schools are not be included.*

Hudson McCarthy, A, Christ Church Episcopal (S.C.)

McCarthy had one of the best freshman campaigns of anyone last season, notching 100 points on 72 goals and 28 assists while helping the Cavaliers to a state title game appearance. McCarthy isn’t the biggest player out there, but what he lacks in size he makes up for in other areas. The sophomore can use his speed and quickness to get past defenders. Knowing to how get to the rack from seemingly anywhere, he is not afraid to take and fight through contact.

Luke Danna, A, The Woodlands (Texas)

A transfer from Creekside (Fla.), Danna doesn’t jump off the page at you with his physical attributes. He is another small, quick offensive weapon. However, the attackman has shown to be both a creative dodger and smart off-ball player with a sick sense of how to get underneath a defense. He also possesses one heck of an outside shot.

Pierce Montes, A, Oak Hall (Fla.)

Tallying 75 points off 38 goals and 37 assists, Montes was the leading scorer for Oak Hall as a freshman last spring. A coaches son, the 5-foot-10, 145-pound lefty has a high lacrosse IQ. He moves well off ball and knows how get to and create space. He knows how to beat his man, is not afraid of fighting through contact, and has one heck of a step-down shot.

Jameson Meyer, A, Wesleyan (Ga.)

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound sophomore plays a smooth game in which he exhibits a good amount of poise. An ambidextrous shooter, he is dangerous almost anywhere on the field where he can find time and room. In addition to being a great off-ball player on the wings, he also has good finishing ability, vision, and can be a solid initiator.

Brendan Leonard, A, Charlotte Catholic (N.C.)

A natural goal scorer, the 6-foot, 155-pound attackman put up 41 goals as a freshman for the Cougars last spring. He moves very well off ball and knows how to get to open space to score on the wings and in tight. Leonard couples his abilities with a strong outside shot and an ability to fight through contact to get to the rack.

Josh Ameo, M, Nation Ford (S.C.)

Ameo was one of the more fun young players to watch last spring.  The 6-foot, 175-pound do-it-all playmaker led Nation Ford with 53 goals and 40 assists en route to a 93-point season while also collected 104 ground balls. Offensively, Ameo has shown to be a threat as both a dodger, off-ball finisher, and feeder. He also has played and made and impact at the high school level at short-stick defensive midfield and faceoff.

Campbell Zegras, M, Oxbridge (Fla.)

Playing in a two-way role last spring as a freshman for Oxbridge, Zegras thrived. He is a strong offensive playmaker from up top, being a consistently good dodger who knows how to beat his man, get his hands free, and get to the middle of the field for a shot on the run. He had 20 goals, six assists, and grabbed 16 ground balls last spring.

Ben Heidt, M, Collegiate (Va.)

Heidt has shown to be a strong ambidextrous shooter who can be a real force and threat to defenses from up top. He is a strong dodger who knows how to beat his man, get downhill, and sting the back of the cage on the run. Heidt is also able to use his downhill dodging ability to draw slides and feed his teammates for scores.

Dylan Furshman, FO, Jupiter (Fla.)

After helping Benjamin (Fla.) to a state title in 2022, Furshman has transferred to fellow Palm Beach County power Jupiter. The 6-foot, 210-pound faceoff man exhibits size, speed, and physicality in his play. His strength is getting those clean offensive exits, for which he often helps jump start the offense. Furshman went 78% last spring and was the only freshman named an FSLCA All-State Selection. A dual-sport athlete, he is also a standout running back in football.

Ethan Sands, FO, St. Andrew’s (Fla.)

Sands was the secondary faceoff man for a state championship Scots squad last season as a freshman and went 42-for-61 (68.9%) at the dot. He has a solid frame at 6-foot-2, 195-pounds to go with his quick hands and ability to come up with clean wins out of a variety of different exits. Can also fight and scrap for ground balls well.

Carter Sherwood, FO, Christ School (N.C.)

Sherwood possesses those quick hands needed to win the clamp and can get those clean offensive exits to help jumpstart the offense from the dot. He is also great when needing to counter and knows how to turn the faceoff into a ground ball battle, and win it.

Miles Sims, D-Mid, Oak Hall (Fla.)

The sophomore has played, and thrived at, close defense, LSM, and short-stick defensive midfield. He is a true Swiss army knife player. On-ball, Sims has shown to be able to match feet very well and stay in front of his man consistently. Off-ball, he often makes smart heads-up plays that help get or contribute to stop. Sims can also impact the game in transition and has proven to be good on the faceoff wings.

Oliver Skeean, LSM, Walton (Ga.)

As a freshman in 2022, Skeean played both LSM and as a midfielder on both ends. He showed a ton of versatility and promise. Skeean has shown to be made in the mold or a modern day LSM as he is a good defender down low who can also take it up the field and impact transition offense, and will find the back of the net when given the opportunity. Skeean is a great in between the boxes and has shown to have a tremendous nose for the ball, being a ground ball vacuum.

Sam Alexander, LSM, Trinity (Ky.)

Possessing the ability to play with both a pole and shortie, Alexander is a versatile playmaker who can shine all over the field. Also excelling in the box game, he has very good defensive footwork and knows how to cause havoc for his matchup. Alexander is especially good in the ground ball game, knowing how to come up with the ball in almost any scenario. He is also a strong asset on the faceoff wings.

Connor O’Brien, D, Jupiter (Fla.)

A versatile defender, O’Brein was a key part if the Jupiter defense as a freshman playing at close and LSM. He picked up a shortie at times and played defensive midfield on the club circuit. O’Brein plays the game with great awareness, especially as an off-ball defender. He can be a caused turnover machine and if given the opportunity will make an impact in transition and help jumpstart the offense.

Charles Ellswood, D, Blessed Trinity (Ga.)

Ellswood is a well-rounded defenseman who can match feet with his man, has fairly good poise, and can get aggressive when needed. He is also a good off-ball defender who can double effectively and is pretty good off the ground.

Steele Croom, G, The Woodlands (Texas)

A pure shot-stopper. The 5-foot-10, 176-pound Croom has shown the ability to track the ball very well and move quickly in the crease. He is especially good at getting low and stopping those low shots while also being able to stand tall when needed. He has shown to be just as consistent when facing shots coming from the outside as well as the inside on the crease.

Others to Watch

Kimo Kouletsis, A, The Woodlands (Texas)

Caden Paradine, A, Christ School (N.C.)

Benjamin Kupstas, A, St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.)

Owen Magee, M, LoveJoy (Texas)

Will Jones, D, West Forsyth (Ga.)

Jace Johnson, LSM/D, McKinney (Texas)

Griffin Cardillo, G, Holly Springs (N.C.)

John Torpy, G, Lake Norman (N.C.)

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