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A draft for the ages


Randy Staats

Randy Staats. Photo Credit: Graig Abel Photography

TORONTO – After selecting lacrosse icon Lyle Thompson No. 1 overall, the night was far from over for the Swarm.

Georgia next turned its attention to the left-side on offense and selected Jesse King No. 3 overall from Ohio State University. King was touted as the top lefty forward in the draft with his 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame and his natural ability to create space for both himself and teammates. As the team captain during his senior season in 2015, the Victoria, British Columbia native led the Buckeyes in all major scoring categories – points (77), goals (42) and assists (35). His 77 points were the most in the program since 1979, and the 23-year-old posted a career-high nine points this past spring in the NCAA Quarterfinals against the eventual champs, Denver. He finished his decorated four-year career ranked fourth all-time in Buckeye history with 208 points and 119 goals, and first in game-winning goals (seven). King was also a three-time USILA All-American and Tewaaraton Trophy finalist.

This past summer, King helped lead the WLA's Victoria Shamrocks to a Mann Cup title after posting a team-high 33 goals in the regular season in 16 games. King also collected a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2014 FIL World Championships (Field Lacrosse) in Denver.

“When you’re a kid growing up in Canada playing lacrosse, it’s something you dream of and today that dream came true,” said King in regards to being selected by the Swarm. “It’s still a little surreal, but I’m lucky to have friends and family to celebrate with. I’m looking forward to the season.”

“Jesse is a big left-handed scorer who can also pass the ball,” Arlotta said. “They rarely come along at this level in the draft — Jesse is one of those players who is a difference maker. He was a great player at Ohio State and his box lacrosse credentials are incredible, he just won the Mann Cup with Victoria.”

With its next selection, the Swarm snagged UNC product Chad Tutton at the No. 5 spot, who offers great potential as a lefty transition player in the NLL with his 6-foot-2, 220-pound build. The Courtice, Ontario native was the first Canadian to be recruited in the Joe Breschi coaching era, and was one of the Tar Heels' leading scorers as a midfielder. This past spring, Tutton posted a career-high 33 goals, and finished his four-year career with 104 scores.

While Tutton excelled on the offensive end in the field game, his defensive abilities have always shined in the box game. The 23-year-old gained valuable playing experience with the MSL's Peterborough Lakers this summer, who faced King's Victoria Shamrocks in the Mann Cup. With his ability to score in transition and be physical on the backend, Swarm management is excited about Tutton's future with the team.

"Chad is a very unique player. He scored a lot of goals for North Carolina," Arlotta said. "He's a big, left-handed player who will be playing out the back door so he gives our defense some support. He's a very gritty player, who can score in transition extremely well."

"In field, I'm strictly an offensive player, whereas in box I'm more defensive minded but I also run the floor a little bit," Tutton said. "I play transition so I play defense first, and then run the floor and try to generate some offense. That's where I see my role."

With their final selection in the first-round, the Swarm added yet another lethal offensive weapon in Randy Staats from Syracuse University with the No. 6 overall pick. Highly regarded as one of the top playmakers in DI lacrosse, Staats' well-rounded game translates well to the NLL. Having spent time with the Thompson Brothers on the Iroquois Nationals team this month during the 2015 World Indoor Lacrosse Championships, Staats is no stranger to playing at a high level. His 32 points (10G, 22a) in the WILC ranked second on Iroquois and his four points (2G, 2A) in the Gold Medal game tied a team-high. In the summertime, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound righty forward also plays for his hometown team, the Six Nations Chiefs, where he won a Mann Cup in 2014.

At Syracuse this past spring, the 22-year-old ranked third on the team with 53 points, second with 24 assists and fourth with 29 goals. In 2014, Staats was a Tewaaraton Trophy finalist after posting a career-high 33 goals to go along with 23 assists. Prior to his time at Syracuse, Staats posted gaudy numbers at Onondaga C.C. as the two-time NJCAA Player of the Year: 139 points (57G, 82A) in 2012 and 156 points (73G, 83A) in 2013.

"It's a great opportunity to play with Lyle, Miles, Jesse and Chad," Staats said. "We're all the same age and have been playing against each other for forever. I think it's pretty special that we can bring all of our talents together finally and stop beating each other up."

"Randy in most drafts, people think that he would have been the number one pick in the draft," Arlotta said. "He's grown up playing box lacrosse but he showed at Syracuse that he's a great field player as well. He played with several of our guys at the world championships in Johnny Powless and the two Thompsons. Watching them play together is really fun as they already have blended together extremely well."

After spending a majority of the first-round improving its offense, Georgia then went with a defensive mindset during the remainder of the draft. With the No. 20 overall pick in the second-round, the Swarm grabbed Thomas Hoggarth, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound defenseman with good hands who has excelled with the Peterborough Jr. A Lakers. Hoggarth impressed Swarm coaches during the NLL combine on Sunday, and has great potential at the young age of 21. The Swarm then added more size on defense at the No. 29 spot with Michael Seidel, who stands tall at 6-foot-6, 215 pounds. The Edmonton, Alberta native played at Robert Morris University and with the Langley Thunder this summer.

To round out the draft, the Swarm selected Nick Ossello from the University of Notre Dame No. 43 overall (fifth-round) and Rick Lewis of Ohio State University No. 50 overall (sixth-round). Both players project to be transition type players in the NLL. Ossello is a rare specimen of an athlete, as he is using his fifth-year of eligibility to play for the Notre Dame football team after completing a solid career with the Fighting Irish Lacrosse Team.

The Swarm's final selection, Rick Lewis, made history Monday evening as he became the first Georgia player to be selected by the Georgia Swarm. The Cumming, Ga. native was a captain at Ohio State with Jesse King, and was a two-time AJC Lacrosse Player of the Year at St. Pius X Catholic School.

"It's amazing for Rick," King said. "He's a wonderful locker room guy, has a great attitude and is another guy who will work his tail off every single game."

"We've heard great things about Rick from his coaches and teammates at Ohio State," Swarm head coach Ed Comeau said. "Giving someone an opportunity who is from the area to come out and try to crack our roster is great for the local lacrosse players."

At the conclusion of the draft, Comeau and Arlotta alike, were pleased with Monday's draft to say the least.

"We're very happy with our selections," Comeau said. "We believe every one of these guys can step in and play, and have an impact on our roster. We're excited to get to work with Lyle and Miles together, and also having a really young dynamic offensive group of guys is something our coaching staff is really excited to get an opportunity to work with."

Arlotta added, "We've been targeting this draft for a number of years and it was really rewarding to see the players that we were able to get. All of them had outstanding NCAA careers, were All-Americans and had box experience. It shows how important box experience is, and it shows the impact box experience can have on the outdoor game as well. We're really excited to get this kind of level of player into Georgia as we enter this market. I know fans are going to be really excited to see these guys play, and they'll recognize them."

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