Recruiting Mailbag, 12/6: Analyzing the 2020’s, Spring Evaluations, 2018 Flips & Late Adds

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The November recruiting circuit is officially in the books and we’re now seeing dozens of 2019’s and 2018’s make commitments. December is usually a relatively slow time for recruiting and for lacrosse in general, though I would suspect that it may change.

After taking a bit of a break from the mailbag feature for the end of the circuit and Thanksgiving, we’re back for the next few months. This week, I preview the 2020 class and the rankings, also answering questions on the new rules and all of the movement in the 2020 class.

I’m taking questions for the upcoming mailbag, where you can either attach your first name and state or choose to remain anonymous. A lot of various topics have been covered over the last few weeks, so have a look below at the past columns before getting into the new edition.

Mailbag, 9/27: Maryland’s recruiting, the importance of showcases & the Ivy League
Mailbag, 10/16
My thoughts on poaching, benefits of PG years and 2020 recruiting
Mailbag, 10/31
The rise of in-home visits & top 2018 classes outside of the usual suspects
Mailbag, 11/14: Top three 2018 recruiting classes and the Ivies’ incoming group

What are your thoughts on the Class of 2020’s overall level of talent compared to other current and past classes? Also, when and how will you be ranking them?
 -Peter in Annapolis

The Class of 2020 is a ridiculously skilled and deep class with a lot of potential to become one of the better classes in recent memory. A few coaches have told me that they feel that it’s a similar amount of talent that they saw from the Class of 2016, a group that many experts feel might eventually rival Class of 2000 that produced all-timers like Ryan Boyle, Tillman Johnson and Mikey Powell.

One big thing stands out about the 2020’s based on the past two years of evaluations as well as through conversations with people in the know: it’s a class particularly loaded with talent from Long Island and Baltimore. Coaches have made it a point to get multiple reads on clubs such as Team 91, LI Express, Crabs, FCA and Looney’s, among others, as those five clubs have accounted for a combined 35 early Class of 2020 verbals. That’s not to say that there’s less talent than usual coming out of the other states, of course, it’s more so that the New York and Maryland clubs have been dominant so far.

As for the rankings, I’ll be changing that format due to the rule change. The plan is to release the Top 25 as well as a small watchlist during the late winter/early spring.

Do you think that more recruitment will happen during the spring season due to the rule change? -Anonymous

As much as we would all love that to happen, I don’t feel as though it’s realistic due to these coaches being so focused on their own college programs. At the same time, the benefit of these rules makes it so that Division I programs are able to look at more stat lines and tape from the varsity season rather than almost entirely club ball. In my opinion, this will produce less “misses” and a higher percentage of players panning out.

With a high volume of D1’s in places like Baltimore or Philly, those programs still have an advantage in terms of geography and the ability to get out to games during the week. However, as of now, I don’t believe that a lot will change. The teams that miss the NCAA tournament will continue to emphasize scouting HS playoff games, but otherwise, I don’t think that spring recruiting strategies will evolve in response to the rule change.

After verbals started for this class 3-4 years ago, we’re seeing the final 2018 flips being made. Are coaches simply filling out their classes/taking fliers with the kids who are committing fall of senior year, or are these late recruits on equal footing with the guys who committed years ago?  -Jesse in New York 

It’s definitely interesting to see the amount of Class of 2018 switches and flips after signing week, even if a lot of those involve Ivies and service academies that don’t use the National Letter of Intent system. I’ve counted about 20 seniors that have switched since November 1st, a number far higher than I would have anticipated. In addition, we’re definitely seeing a decent amount of late-blooming seniors find really solid homes since that same date.

With nearly 100 total switches in the Class of 2018, some schools are simply trying to fill out their senior recruiting classes, finding players that came on strong over the summer and during the November circuit. This unprecedented number of commitment switches essentially made it so top schools have adjusted the way they recruit, often having backup plans in case certain players opted for other destinations. To me, the late additions and late flips are absolutely on equal footing as a lot of the early commitments, if not better. So many players are making “upgrades” whether that’s for academics and/or the lacrosse aspect. A lot of kids got overlooked or broke out later in the process and ultimately, that hard work paid off as several seniors committed to some of the better programs in the country.

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