Which young players could be the stars of future Nationals?
October 26, 2019 by Edward Stephens and Cody Mills in Analysis, Opinion with 0 comments
Ultiworld’s club men’s postseason coverage is presented by Spin Ultimate; all opinions are those of the author. Gear up for your big games, your tournament parties, and everything in between at Spin Ultimate!
One of the great joys of Club Nationals is getting the opportunity to see which young club players are starting to distinguish themselves against the savvy veterans. It’s like getting a glimpse into a crystal ball. This year it got us thinking: if you could make a line to dominate the field in, say, 2022, but you could only choose players making a name for themselves at this year’s tournament, who would you pick?
With the caveat that we took Machine’s Joe White — on account of his status already as one of the best players in the division — out of consideration, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better line.
Without further ado, the Line of the Future:
Team: SoCal Condors
Every great line needs a great center handler, and Calvin Brown is it. The reigning Rookie Of the Year wowed the field at college Nationals during his freshman year campaign with Cal Poly SLO last year, but he’s just getting started. He’s as lanky as Simon Montague and composed as Ashlin Joye — which, at his tender age, is remarkable.
Brown’s feel for the game is more mature than his age, too. Against matchup defenses, he shows the awareness to avoid poaches. And when opponents throw zone, he knows how to find and attack soft spots over the top — or work the disc side to side when the looks haven’t yet presented themselves.
But what truly sets Brown apart is the command he shows of every throw in his toolkit. He applies edge and touch as deliberately as a ten-year veteran. Every simple pass is a masterpiece of execution. Could you ask for a more solid foundation?
Team: San Francisco Revolver
Adam Rees is probably name you already know— he was a top five Callahan finisher in 2018— but this year he has taken the club division by storm in a new way. After a stint with Portland Rhino Slam while playing his college ball at Oregon, the Alameda High School product moved back the Bay Area to lace up with his hometown team, Revolver. In a year that featured a score of new faces for the San Francisco squad, team leadership has to feel extremely lucky that Rees was one of them.1
Despite being a first year player, Rees slid seamlessly on to the Revolver O-line and has frequently been a top three player on the team. Offensively, he is a rock solid cutter who can gain separation with ease and is a feared thrower with the disc in his hands. He has the acumen to find the soft spots in zones, and when the disc is turned over he’s a lock down defender who can earn it back. There are no holes in his game.
Adam Rees has franchise player written all over him, and as Revolver looks to induct a new generation into their vaunted program they will surely look to build around Rees.
Team: Rhino Slam
Leandro Marx’s game exudes hustle. Despite just finishing his senior year playing for his college team, Oregon Ego, Marx has burst onto the club scene to establish himself as one of the stars of the men’s division.
He’s a five-tool player with a ceiling so high that he could be a centerpiece for any team in the country. His defense is unrelenting and intelligent. His cutting is tireless and powerful. His throws have power and edge. He can truly do it all, and this year he’s risen to the occasion of being one of the more familiar names on a Rhino roster steeped in relative anonymity.
Though he started is career as the heart of the Oregon D-line, Marx has followed the well-worn path over to the offense side of the disc where he has continued to excel. As of this writing, he leads club nationals in goals with 16, three more than his closest competitor.
Team: Truck Stop
Jeremy Hess is on his way to establishing himself as one of the purest athletes in the sport. A rising junior at Maryland, Hess has made some of the best pure highlight plays of the year.
As a defender, he’s got just the right combination of the three H’s — height, hops, and hunger — to become a truly special talent. And the more high-level experience he gets, the more his instincts are going to push him toward great plays in big moments.
He’s already an elite stopper, and the offense is sure to come around once he realizes he’s The Guy on his college team. So, what’s the eventual ceiling with a player like Hess? We can’t wait to find out.
It says a lot about a cutter when he can simultaneously be his team’s best deep threat and stand just 5’8”, but that’s where we are with Edinboro University’s Max Sheppard. Shep plays like he has springs in his cleats, and he will sky anybody who has the temerity to think they can get to a floating disc first.
The leaping ability provides the wow-factor, but he’s more than just Air Sheppard. With a tireless motor to propel him from sideline to sideline in pursuit of scoring opportunities. Once his handlers open a throwing window, he has a budding killer instinct reminiscent of some of the division’s greats — Joel Schlachet, anyone? It’s no wonder Sheppard finds himself near the top of the leaderboard in goals scored this weekend.
He’s already a foundational piece for the ascendant Pittsburgh elite club scene, and he could turn into one of the country’s absolute best sooner than later.
Kyle Henke has always been an athlete, but this season he’s made the jump into being a one of the most powerful cutters in the men’s division. After finding early career success with the Austin Sol of the AUDL and then using his abilities to hoist a relatively unknown Texas Tech squad into the national conversation2 Henke has taken the men’s division by force as one of the featured cutters in Doublewide’s offense, particularly in the deep space.
Many Doublewide O-points begin with initiating sets forcing opponents to guard Jay Froude, Abe Coffin, and Henke in isolation or to help off one of them. First, being in a trio with two All-Club players is a compliment in itself, but the fact that Henke consistently punished teams that choose to help off him speaks to his true quality. Henke’s game has evolved from raw athleticism to include a field sense and throwing ability that will set him up to be a star in the division for years to come.
Ring of Fire
Age (average of more than half the roster): 21.79
We’re cheating here with the last pick, for good reason. Ring of Fire have 14 (!) rostered players under 24 years old, and they have ridden the play of that group to the semifinals already. Honestly, it wouldn’t be so far-fetched to argue that they’re full-fledged stars now.
But for the purposes of this exercise, how do you pick just one or two names from the list? It reads: Dillon Lanier, Alex Davis, Henry Fisher, Liam Searles-Bohs, Eric Taylor, Anders Juengst, Elijah Long, Stan Birdsong, Matt Gouchoe-Hanas, Sol Yanuck, Walker Matthews, Andrew McKelvey, Austin von Alten, Connor Russell.
Do you go with the bombastic offensive talent of Taylor, Fisher, or Davis? Embrace the telepathic chemistry of the Gouchoe-Hanas – Yanuck duo? Or just pick one of the lockdown defenders and bank on a turnover?
It’s too much to decide. We’ll take them all, thank you very much.
That Rees is suiting up with the division powerhouse must be a little feather in Dylan Freechild’s cap. He predicted his fellow Ego alum would made the team in 2018. “I just think Adam is NBA-ready, if you will. And I think he always has been. I think he would make any club team, and I think he would be able to be slotted in any position and would have an impact. I’ve been telling him, ‘Dude you would be the classic young dude that [San Francisco] Revolver would pick up and would play 10 points in a semifinal game,’” said Freechild. ↩
Alongside Doublewide teammate Carson Wilder. ↩