What ESPN's Mark Dixon intends to look for in Saturday's All-America game
On Saturday night, 44 of the nation’s top prep lacrosse players will descend upon Towson University’s Johnny Unitas Stadium to take part in the sixth annual Under Armour All-America Classic, and ESPN analyst Mark Dixon will have a front-row view of the action.
The former Johns Hopkins midfielder will provide commentary for ESPNU’s broadcast of the game, which he said must be treated as an all-star game.
“So you can’t base how a person is going to fare on the collegiate level based on one game,” Dixon said Thursday afternoon. “Last year, Nicky Galasso, playing for the North [team], scored one goal. He was the No. 1 recruit coming in, and people were wondering, ‘Wow, is he not that good?’ And then he’s just dynamite as a freshman at Carolina where he becomes a first-team All American. So you can’t put too much stock into it. But I get excited just to see what we can look forward to in college lacrosse the next four years.”
Dixon said the group of attackmen headlined by North Carolina recruit Jimmy Bitter, Maryland’s David Solomon and Johns Hopkins’ Mike Daniello has the potential to be “special.”
Dixon said he’s also intrigued by the corps of midfielders led by Virginia recruit and The Sun’s All-Metro Player of the Year Ryan Tucker and Albany’s Lyle Thompson.
“The midfield seems to be the position that doesn’t have as many marquee guys anymore,” Dixon said. “It just so happens that the attack has had the dominant collegiate players over the last few years. So I’m interested to see how some of these midfielders can do.”
Because of the open-field, high-octane setting of Saturday’s contest, Dixon acknowledged that it’s difficult to evaluate the defensemen and goalkeepers. Keeping the score low is not a criteria for Dixon.
“I think what you look for from the defensemen is their athleticism and their ability to cover versus their discipline in an all-star game,” he said. “It’s such a free-wheeling style that you have to look at the defensemen and their athleticism. Goalies see more rubber than a Goodyear tire factory. … For the goalies, you’re just looking at their ability to make saves. They’ll have the opportunity because they will face a lot of shots.”
Here are a few individuals that intrigue Dixon:
Attackman Jimmy Bitter (committed to North Carolina): “He’s Billy Bitter’s younger brother, and he plays a lot like Billy. Quick, very balanced, a good feeder, tough.”
Midfielder Lyle Thompson (Albany): “He is the younger brother of Jeremy Thompson from Syracuse. He’s going to Albany, and he’s supposed to be a dynamic player and terrific scorer.”
Attackman Joe Sankey (North Carolina): “He’s only 5-6. So I’m interested in watching him play and seeing how he does in this sport where everybody is becoming bigger, stronger and faster.”
Midfielder Bobby Gribbin (Maryland): “He was originally a Penn State commit, and he changed up and is now going to Maryland.”