JJ Foley emerged as one of the top defensive recruiting targets of many of the nation’s top programs this past summer.
One of the main reasons for that is the fact that the Smithtown West (N.Y.) junior has not always been a defenseman. He made the switch from midfield two years ago on the advice of former Bulls head coach Sean Keenan.
So now, Foley is a defenseman with outstanding stick skills who loves to get up and down the field. In addition, he has excellent size at 6-foot-3, 203 pounds, has good footwork and likes to play a physical brand of lacrosse.
Needless to say, Lehigh University has to be ecstatic about the fact that the junior star has verbally committed to the Mountain Hawks.
Now, here’s a Q&A with JJ on his commitment.
What were the main factors in your decision?
The biggest factor was because Lehigh gave me the ability to get a degree from one of the top schools in the country. As far as lacrosse is concerned, I wanted to have a chance to play for a national championship and I believe (Lehigh Head) Coach (Kevin) Cassese and his staff will get us there. I also think my strengths fit in well with (Assistant) Coach (Brendan) Callahan’s up-tempo defensive style. Lehigh is also less than three hours away, so it helps with the traveling.
What other schools were you considering and what schools did you visit?
I seriously considered Bucknell, Yale, Lafayette, UPenn and Binghamton. I met so many great coaches and saw a lot of great campuses. It made it hard to make a decision. But from the first time I visited Lehigh and met with the coaches, I knew Lehigh was where I wanted to go.
What are your strengths as a player and how would you describe your style of play?
I like to play physical. My strengths would be my ability to use my size and move my feet. I am a former midfielder, so I love getting up the field and making things happen. The coaches love my lacrosse IQ.
What areas of your game have you been working to improve on?
I think I can improve in all areas of my game. My goal is to be an impact player when I get to Lehigh. I’m going to train hard in the weight room and work on getting a more explosive first step.
My best friends and teammates from Smithtown West are some of the top recruits in the country, so this winter we plan on doing a lot of one-on-ones and stuff to keep pushing ourselves to get better.
Who have been some of the biggest influences on you during your development as a player?
Outside of my parents and varsity coaches, I have surrounded myself with people that have had a big impact on my development. My youth/travel coach and high school coach up until last year was Sean Keenan. I’m good friends with Coach Keenan’s son, Ryan, who also happens to be a top recruit for Penn State.
Coach Keenan brings a few of us to the field every weekend during the winter to do drills, go one-on-one and develop our games.
Coach Keenan recommended I switch to defense a couple of years ago. I also have a few mentors in Matt Stefurak, Rob Pannel and Scott Perri. These guys have been working and training me since I was real young. They are great guys who have always supported me and given me great advice.
What travel team did you play on and what were some of the big showcase events you participated in last summer?
During the summer, I played on Team Smithtown West. It’s pretty much our team from spring. We are so unbelievably strong and deep that some of the best competition I faced was in practice.
We went as a team to Hot Beds, Tri-State, Hofstra and Farmindale this summer. I also went to a few showcases and did really well. In June I went to First Look Elite showcase at Hofstra. First Look was a first-year, invite-only camp that had a lot of great schools in attendance; I would definitely recommend trying to get into that one.
Maverick Showtime was a monster camp for me. I made the all-star team and was named a “Top Ten All-Star who impressed” by Inside Lacrosse.
I also played up in Syracuse at the Empire State Cup for Long Island. There was some great competition there and I was selected to the all-tournament team.
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