05/21/2019 2:35 PM
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The best players in the South in front of top college coaches in the country at a school that's in the Final Four.
There's nothing quite like the Run With The Best Southern Showcase at Duke University.
More than 120 of the South's elite players in the 2020 through 2023 graduating classes played in front of college coaches from 25 colleges, including six Division I schools. Here's what Navy interim head coach Ryan Wellner had to say about the athletes.
Want more coverage from the event? CLICK HERE for a photo gallery from Sunday's action. Here's a look at some of the players who stood out the most. Standouts are listed in alphabetical order.
Beau Atkinson '22, defense, Leesville (N.C.) / Team 91 Carolina
At 6-6 and with the potential to eventually be 6-8, Atkinson towered over everyone on Sunday. For such a big man, though, he showed surprisingly nimble feet and abiity to change directions. He set the tone early in individual drills by launching an attackman a couple of feet away, and that physicality carried over to the games, including a play where he chopped the ball out of his opponent's stick and ran to play the ground ball at the midline.
Carter Aycock '20, defense, Ridge Point (Texas) / Team 91 Texas
At 6-1, 190 pounds, Aycock has excellent size and backs it up with a very physical, aggressive playing style. A starter at outside linebacker on Ridge Point's football team, it's obvious that he loves and seeks out contact, and he acquitted himself very well in group and 1v1 matchups. If the ball's on the ground after a caused turnover, chances are good that he's coming away with it.
Thomas Barton '22, defense, Radnor (Pa.) / Team 91 Texas
Barton managed to earn some playing time this spring as a freshman for Radnor, one of Pennsylvania's top public schools, and while he's still raw, there's plenty to like about the young defender. He plays extremely hard and is always competing, and he showed an active stick all day long. On occasion, he even grabbed a short stick to help out his team on the hot day and relished taking on the challenge of being an SSDM. He's got toughness in spades.
DJ Batton '21, attack, Apex (N.C.) / Team 91 Carolina
Batton led Apex with 42 goals as a sophomore this year, and it's not hard to see how he consistently got to the rack. He is super shifty with an ability to put any defender on his highlight reel at any given moment. He showed off a deep bag of offensive tricks, led by a ridiculous backhander while fading away from the net, and he can also thread the needle with some beautiful passes. Batton is almost unstoppable in unsettled transition situations, and although he's not big, he doesn't shy away from contact.
Christian Daniels '21, defense, Middle Creek (N.C.) / Team 91 Carolina
Daniels was solid all around for the Duke team at the showcase, and he showed a consistent ability to take the ball away, including a half-dozen caused turnovers in the first two games of the day. He was excellent in 1v1 drills and brought a physical style that paired well with his quick feet and active stick. Daniels, who started all year for 4A East semifinalist Middle Creek, also has a smooth handle that allows him to corral ground balls in traffic and get upfield.
Matthew Gulley '21, defense, Apex (N.C.) / Team 91 Carolina
The captain of the "First off the bus" team, Gulley looks the part of a big-time Division I athlete. At close to 6-4, 200 pounds, he's a middle linebacker and a tight end in the fall, and he plays like a linebacker. The son of a Division I football player, Gulley's size and speed combo jump out right away, and he's a mean, aggressive defenseman who loves to mix it up and push attackmen around. He's an intimidating presence on the back end and has sky-high upside.
Owen Harrison '20, midfield, Middle Creek (N.C.) / Team 91 Carolina
Harrison ran both attack and out of the midfield for the Duke team, and earned praise from his coaches for his coachability. His quickness helped him create separation from defenders and he found the back of the net a few times, but he also showed a great abiity to draw and dump, showcasing good vision on his way to a couple of assists. At midfield, he can do a little bit of everything, from playing solid defense to grabbing ground balls and initiating offense.
Coleman Kraske '22, faceoff midfield, Wakefield (N.C.) / Team 91 Carolina
An absolute bull at the faceoff X, Kraske was the only one to give '20 Brett Reynolds any problems at the X, where the two were close to 50 percent apiece against each other. He took a ton of faceoffs for Wakefield this year, and that experience helped him develop more moves. A very good athlete, he has the strength and power to simply overpower his opponents, but he also has good technique to go along with it.
Luke McDonald '20, LSM, Middle Creek (N.C.) / Team 91 Carolina
Middle Creek wondered how it would replace now-High Point freshman A.J. King at LSM this spring. McDonald answered that question emphatically with an outstanding year for the Mustangs. He's not the biggest pole out there, but he can do it all, and his motor never stops. He showed a very active stick and vacuumed up ground balls with ease, got up and down the field with ease and had at least one goal while contributing offensively all day.
Brett Reynolds '20, faceoff midfield, Chapel Hill (N.C.) / Team 91 Carolina
Reynolds was dominant for most of the day, rarely getting tested other than a matchup with '22 Coleman Kraske (Wakefield). He showed off a variety of exits, won the ball to himself both forward and backward, and he made solid decisions with the ball in his stick. He had a much cleaner stick than last year and rarely struggled with getting the ball into and out of his stick.
Zack Tucker '21, goalie, Athens Drive (N.C.) / Team 91 Carolina
Tucker combines a big frame with confidence and poise in goal. He showed a nice blend of size, athleticism and speed, and most importantly, he made a bunch of very impressive saves. Tucker can deny shooters in tight and also saw the ball well on outside shots. and he tossed out some solid outlets. He's a decent communicator, but becoming louder and more active will go a long way.
Walker Aycock '22, midfield, Ridge Point (Texas) / Team 91 Texas
Henry Black '21, attack, Sanderson (N.C.) / Team 91 Carolina
Nick Brilliant '21, midfield, JH Rose (N.C.) / Team 91 Carolina
Nick Calleri '22, attack, Holly Springs (N.C.) / Team 91 Carolina
Caden Castle '22, attack, Fuquay Varina (N.C.) / Team 91 Carolina
Sam Ferrel '21, midfield, Charles E. Jordan (N.C.) / Team 91 Carolina
Ben Haugh '20, midfield, Broughton (N.C.) / Team 91 Carolina
Logan Kennedy '20, midfield, Holly Springs (N.C.) / Team 91 Carolina
Emmett Paradine '22, midfield, Hickory (N.C.) / Hickory
Jack Parker '20, midfield, Apex Friendship (N.C.) / Team 91 Carolina
Evan Sharp '22, goalie, Ridgepoint (Texas) / Team 91 Texas