The San Diego Seals selected left-handed forward Austin Staats with the first overall pick in the 2018 National Lacrosse League Entry Draft on Tuesday.
“Being drafted by the San Diego Seals is a dream come true,” said Staats. “I have been looking forward to this day my whole life, and I am so excited to be a Seal.”
Staats, 20, has been described as a “man among boys” in Junior A play with Six Nations. In 2018, he netted 42 goals in 14 games. His 87 points led the team despite playing in less games than his fellow forwards.
“He is a generational talent,” said Seals general manager and head coach Patrick Merrill. “He has electrifying goal-scoring abilities and was the most NLL-ready player in the draft.”
Staats has familiarity with the Seals coaching staff, having played for Merrill and (Seals defensive coach) Bill Greer with Six Nations. In three years, Merrill led Staats and the Arrows to three straight finals appearances, capturing two championships.
“Being able to play for Coach Merrill again makes this even better,” continued Staats. “I look up to him and the rest of the coaching staff, and I can’t wait to get to San Diego and play my heart out for the fans and the city.”
The 6-foot, 200-pound lefty registered 102 goals and 156 points in 26 games in two seasons for the Onondaga Lazers (National Junior College Athletic Association). He was a two-time All-America selection and led the program to a pair of national titles.
“Austin has championship pedigree,” Merrill continued. “He has a high lacrosse IQ and is a perfect player to start a franchise with and build around.”
The youngster has already impressed at every level at which he’s competed, taking home MVP honors in the 2017 Minto Cup. The year prior, at age 18, Staats won the Mann Cup (Canada’s Senior A box lacrosse championships). Two months ago, the Six Nations, Ontario native was named to the All-World Team at the 2018 FIL World Lacrosse Championship.