The on-field progression that the High Point program has seen in just a short time is hard to ignore.
From going 9-7 last spring in year two (and narrowly missing an AQ) to beating Delaware in their opener to turning heads in a narrow 16-13 loss to two-time defending champion Duke, their results have garnered significant attention from the lacrosse world in the past few weeks.
Recently, that success – combined with an enthusiastic, hard-working staff and a campus that resembles a sprawling, $700 million country club – has translated into major recruiting wins.
In the last two months, head coach Jon Torpey has gained commitments from three players ranked in RR’s Top 75, one in each graduating class. No. 26 sophomore Latrell Harris (LSM/D – Mountain Vista, Colo.), No. 64 junior Cam Garlin (A – Whitby, Ont.) and No. 14 senior Alex Woodall (F/O – St. Mary’s, Md.) have all pledged to the budding program in North Carolina, as have several other touted prospects in past months.
For the Panthers’ staff, the courting process has consisted of going through recruits with a fine-tooth comb, doing the proper research to ensure that their high character prospects know what to expect when it comes to helping build a contender. After all, it takes a special kind of kid to want to build something from the ground up, waking up at 6am to get better everyday towards the ultimate team goal.
There have been some uphill battles in recruiting, however the Panthers have brought in verbals from kids receiving heavy attention from proud programs like Denver, Maryland and Syracuse, among others. Their commits say that once the visit to the picturesque campus is made, it’s awfully hard to say no.
Cam Garlin ’16, A, Donald A. Wilson HS (Ont.) / Evolve Elite, Edge
For the Canadian lefty, the recruiting process came together particularly late. After playing box with the Whitby Warriors organizatoin for much of the summer, Garlin really put himself on everybody’s radar with a six-goal outing in September’s US-Canada Stars & Stripes Challenge.
Two months later, Garlin says that NXT’s Can-Am Showcase in Michigan was the turning point, where the Panthers’ head coach was impressed with his play. The 6-foot-3 junior built a relationship with Torpey, a good friend of Garlin’s Evolve Elite coach Tracy Kelusky from their days as rookie teammates in the NLL. From there, he got to campus as soon as possible, waiting nearly a month commit to his “perfect fit” until after visiting Drexel and Syracuse.
“I fell in love with the place and really connected with the team. The campus is insane and I definitely enjoyed the guys in the locker room when I came down on my initial visit,” Garlin says. “I bonded with the coaches a lot and felt like they’re very similar to the guys who have coached me and helped me get to where I am.”
Garlin, a nifty shooter who excels when backing down his man, will follow in the footsteps of a pair of lefty Canadian attackmen, touted junior Dan Lomas and freshman Connor Robinson. Originally planning to postgrad and enter college in the fall of 2017, he’ll enter a year earlier than expected, however he’s still currently exploring the option of attending prep school in New England for a year.
Latrell Harris ’17, LSM/D, Mountain Vista (Colo.) / 3d Colorado
A game-changer in every sense of the word, Harris’ commitment a week ago made a major splash in the recruiting landscape and provides HPU with a physical specimen who looks as if he could cover the opponent’s top scoring option from day one.
In recent months, Harris, who is also a standout hockey player, transferred from Ontario’s Denis Morris HS to live in Colorado with club coach Jamie Munro (whose son Colin, is a top 2017 player and box teammate of Latrell’s) and become college-ready in terms of increased competition, coaching and academics. Already one of the better players in the country, the switch will put his game over the top – as it will the Golden Eagles, one of Colorado’s main state title contenders this spring.
Intern Max Mollihan scouted Harris, the No. 24 sophomore who also plays box with St. Catharine’s and called him “the most offensive-minded pole I saw all week”, with the rest of the writeup available at this link. 3d Lacrosse national club director Matt Rowley had this to say about Harris when I spoke with him last week:
“Latrell has an opportunity to be one of the highest impact players in the 2017 class – his size, speed and skill rank right up there with the best recruits I’ve seen. He has excellent straight-ahead speed, which paired with his ability with his ability to match an attackman’s change of speed/direction makes him the ultimate cover defenseman. He’s also physically dominant and will not be overpowered by too may D1 attackmen. Couple all of that with the skill and offensive game of a Canadian midfielder and you’ve got the most complete player at that position to come out of the great white north since Brodie Merrill.”
Alex Woodall ’15, F/O, St. Mary’s (Md.) / Annapolis Hawks
Coming out of nowhere to lock down his services, High Point ensured that they’d have the ball on offense an awful lot next year when Woodall committed, which was first reported by RR.
No. 14 senior Alex Woodall, F/O, St. Mary’s (Md.) has just committed to @HPUMensLax. Massive (literally) pickup for Jon Torpey’s Panthers.
— Ty Xanders (@tyxanders) February 5, 2015
Woodall has been a dominant force against some of the very competition in the country, even winning 15 of 19 against Hunter Moreland (now a Johns Hopkins freshman) in a near-upset of No. 1 Boys’ Latin last April. For the past three years, he’s made as big of an impact as any one face-off midfielder has made on a MIAA team in quite some time.
Physically, one might mistake him for a college senior. His upper and lower body are equally strong, allowing him to overpower his opponent and make quick work of the face-off. How he’ll adjust to the new F/O rules remain to be seen, though he’s incredibly likely to carry over his success to the next level, where he’ll carry over his blue-collar mentality.
“I feel like there are a whole lot of players that maybe got overlooked by Top 20 schools and play with a chip on their shoulder and I like that because that’s how I play,” Woodall says of his decision. “When I visited, I really enjoyed the guys on the team and felt like they’d been my teammates for a while.”
This year, Woodall will be a pivotal piece of the Saints’ senior-laden squad, helping them compete for their first MIAA title since 1996 before heading down to High Point and competing for SoCon championships.