Thursday, January 15, 2009

Full Draft Recap

So I'm back from St. Louis and ready to give a full recap of the Wizards draft. While it's hard to tell immediately what will come of this draft, looking at it, I think the Wizards got some good players with their picks.

1(8) - Matt Besler - D - Notre Dame
Besler is a local kid who grew up watching the Wizards and certainly endeared himself to those Wizards fans who traveled to St. Louis by giving them a shout out when he was at the podium after being selected. He's a strong hard nosed defender that by looking at his college career is definitely able to be healthy. His main position at Notre Dame was in the center of defense, but he said he'd also spent time as a wide defender as well as in the midfield, so he fits the versatility that Coach Onalfo and Peter Vermes has shown to like in their draftees. The Wizards also rated him as one of the top defenders coming out of college. The Wizards weren't the only ones that rated him either, as there were rumors that two other teams were trying to trade up into the 7 spot (held by DC) to try and get him (which was the likely reason for DC's time out there). "That was the guy that we wanted at that pick, and we got him," Vermes added. The fact that he's a local player was a bonus in Onalfo's eyes, and wasn't a reason that the Wizards actually took Besler.

2(22) - Doug DeMartin - F - Michigan St - DeMartin scored 38 goals in his college career, including 17 in his senior year. While Coach Onalfo believes that the team currently has 4 forwards capable of starting, he sees this as a good situation for DeMartin to show what he can do. "We have a lot of confidence in him," Onalfo said.

2(23) - Graham Zusi - M/F - Maryland - Zusi was the offensive MVP of the College Cup, as he scored in both the semifinals and the finals for Maryland. Onalfo said that Zusi had really opened their eyes during the Final Four, "(He)really took his team on his shoulders and had an outstanding Final Four." Onalfo sees him as being a guy that can fit in in the attcking midfield position for the Wizards.

3(42) - Neal Kitson - GK - St. John's - Kitson had a strong senior year at St. John's, making 95 saves and finished with a goals against average of .48 in 24 games. "He's made some unbelieveable saves and kept St. John's in games," Vermes said of Kitson. He's certainly a player that can push Eric Kronberg next season.

4(50) - Akeem Priestley - M - Conneticut - Priestley has played for the Jamacian U-23 team as well as their full national team, so he brings in some international experience to the Wizards. He had a solid college career, starting 74 of the 76 games he played in scoring 22 goals and getting 27 assists.

Onalfo believes that unlike previous years, the team didn't come into the draft looking for players that would have to immediately come in and start, instead they are now looking to find cover and depth in all positions. But he did say that Besler is a guy that can come in and compete with Aaron Hohlbein for the starting spot on the back line.

On a side note, one of the best lines of the day came when DC took their timeout in the first round between their two picks. Sitting right in front of me at the time, was USSF President, Sunil Gulati and upon hearing that DC was calling a timeout between their picks said they took the time out because "They were surprised by the 6th pick." That got a good laugh from the press that was sitting nearby.

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