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Duke’s first Class of 2019 tristate verbal headlines this latest update.
It comes from Connecticut and a program that has a long history of sending players to Durham: Wilton, where midfielder Connor Drake decided on Duke, a verbal first reported by Joe Lombardi on LaxLessons.com’s Lacrosse Insider premium coverage section.
The 5-foot-10, 155-pound lefty has been a recruiting target of coach John Danowski since last year. Drake emerged as one of the top midfielders in his class during a standout 2015 summer.
He was also recruited by Notre Dame, UVa, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, UNC, and Maryland.
Drake has outstanding all-around skills to go with great athleticism. He is an adept scorer and feeder and also strong on groundballs and defense and excels in transition.
Drake is also an outstanding student with a 3.7 grade-point average.
Now, here’s a Q&A with Connor on his commitment.
What were the main factors in your decision?
If I could see myself at that school. Every place I visited I tried to picture my first day walking on campus and how I would feel to be there.
When I first set foot on the Duke campus, I knew it was the place for me. Visiting North Carolina for tournaments and other events made me love the climate, the location and even the scenery.
The style of coaching was a huge factor for me as well.
I was really attracted to the calm, composed coaching style of the Duke staff. I like how they maintain their calm composure and are not flustered in tough situations or close games.
Overall, I just wanted to be comfortable at the school whether it was in the classroom, on the field, or just walking around campus.
What other schools were you considering and what schools did you visit?
I was considering many of the schools you see in the playoffs every year.
I visited Notre Dame, UVA, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, UNC, and Maryland.
In addition to the ones I visited, I was considering schools such as Brown, Princeton, Army and Harvard.
Have you decided what academic major you plan to pursue?
Being only a freshman in high school, I do not really have a plan on what I would like to major in college.
I want to do something in business or finance but I am willing to keep my options open.
My mother and father both have degrees in exercise physiology which makes me want to possibly explore that field.
Also, my father is a graduate of West Point (Army). I would potentially like to join the ROTC program at Duke and fulfill one of my dreams of becoming a Navy SEAL.
What are your strengths as a player and how would you describe your style of play?
I would like to think of myself as a player who is everywhere. Not only on the stat sheet but on the field. I have a scrappy side to me where I’m not afraid to dig my head into a scrum for a ground ball or go up against one of the top middies on defense.
Along with my scrappiness, I posses a certain amount of tenacity and competitiveness. I always want the ball in my stick, especially in a close game and can try to make something happen whether it’s a transition, an assist, a goal, or even a nice defensive play.
I do not want to be seen as only an offensive midfielder or an attackmen because I love the transition game and playing defense.
What area of your game do you need to work on?
My coaches are always saying what a great work ethic I have and I love being critiqued so I can complete my game to succeed at the next level. Of course everybody will say their off hand which is something everyone needs to work on.
I love being called “all left” and then sticking one righty down the ally. So I would like to continue to work on my right hand and really become an extreme offensive threat from both sides.
After playing this past weekend, I was talking to one of my Chargers coaches and they were explaining to me how to be able to succeed at the next level, I must use my entire body when shooting. As the goalies get better I will have to use more than just my arms to get it past them and that is something I will work hard on this off season and bring that to the table next spring.
How did you get introduced to lacrosse and what other sports have you played?
I have played lacrosse since I can remember. The first time I picked up a stick was when I was about 3 playing with my dad at the beach in Montauk which has been a place we like to go every year, it’s a family tradition. But my mom being a Ward Melville alum, a lacrosse player and coach herself, she had to get me playing so she really helped me love the sport.
I remember the first time I ever saw a lacrosse practice and that was in kindergarten on the bus and I saw a bunch of kids running around in these green and blue jerseys. I starred in awe as I couldn’t wait to get home to tell my mom to sign me up. I got home and told her about what I saw and told her I wanted to play so I could wear a jersey with a number on it and wear a helmet. Sort of ridiculous but that’s when it all started. I had always played football, basketball and hockey up until this (school) year when I decided to run cross country in the fall and play hockey in the winter.
I ended up making varsity on both of those teams and contributed to our team by winning my first two races of cross country and running along with two of the top runners at my school.
The hockey season was tougher for me. It was my second year playing on a team and I had a little bit of trouble getting used to the speed of high school hockey. I ended up playing and contributing on the second and third offensive lines of our varsity hockey team. It really was a great experience for me to be able to grow at something that I had trouble with.
What travel team do you play on what showcase events did you participate in?
I play for the Connecticut Chargers and Long Island Express. I will be attending most tournaments with both teams and Maverik Showtime later this summer.
Showcases I attended were: Run with the Best, Brine Nationals 2014,2015, NaT 175 Liberty Bell showcase, and NXT Philly Showcase.
Any final thoughts and people you want to thank for helping you reach this point?
I would like to thank my parents Sean and Kathy for driving me to do a shooting practice at the field or driving me 6 hours down to Maryland for a wekend tournament. With out their help I would not have the work ethic or integrity I posses today.
I would also like to thank all of my coaches throughout my lacrosse career including my two varsity coaches Coach Wiseman and Coach Pearsall who gave me an amazing experience this year on the team and helped me grow as a player and as a person. I can always go to them if I need anything and that is what I love about them.
Coach Brameier, Coach Channechuk, and Coach Schwalje for helping me in the recruit process and helping me achieve my goal of playing Division I lacrosse.
I would like to thank all of my friends, and other coaches along the way that have helped me through tough times in my life and when I wasn’t playing or feeling well, would get me back on my horse and ready to go.
Lastly I’d like to thank my sister Callie for making the long trips to watch my tournaments and cheer me on in the summer heat. She is now beginning the process of recruiting, where I was a year ago, and I am excited to see her grow and pursue her dream that we both share.
LL/RR Recruiting Rundown commitment lists
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