The 2017 National Lacrosse League Entry Draft will be held Monday, September 18 at the Toronto Rock Athletic Centre in Oakville, Ontario. NLL.com correspondent Stephen Stamp introduces you to some of the players expected to be chosen near the top of the draft in this series, Getting to Know a Prospect.
Get to know…JP Kealey
In the build up to this year’s draft, JP Kealey is not a name you often hear. The lefty forward from Ottawa, Ontario didn’t draw a lot of attention in junior lacrosse. He played four years of Jr B for Nepean, near his hometown. Even though he had a 40-goal season, word of exploits from the far Eastern reaches of Jr B in the OLA doesn’t tend to travel far.
When he did make the move up to Jr A it was with the Mississauga Tomahawks. While he put up a respectable 44 points, the Tomahawks didn’t win a game. Again, the spotlight doesn’t shine bright on a winless team.
Throw in two years missed to knee injuries and you’ll have to forgive the lacrosse world if it didn’t raise loud welcome for Kealey when he arrived with the non-playoff Langley Thunder in the WLA this summer. But he quietly went about having a very good season, scoring at over a 3.5 points-per-game clip (20g/23a/43pts in 12 games).
His numbers can look even more impressive when you consider the context. Langley didn’t score a whole lot as a team, so when he was putting up points it was often a large percentage of the Thunder’s total. For instance, in a 9-7 loss to Coquitlam on June 28, Kealey had 3 goals and 3 assists. That’s 6 points on 7 Langley goals. When they visited Victoria July 7, he only scored a goal and 2 assists. But given that the Thunder lost 11-5, he was still in on 60% of their goals.
Kealey isn’t in the mix for the top of the first round, and his injury history may make teams wary of picking him for a while, but someone is going to get a potential hidden gem when they call his name at the draft. He didn’t expend all the time and energy of working his way back from the knee injuries for nothing; Kealey is determined to make the most of whatever opportunity he gets.
Name: JonPatrick Kealey (JP)
Date of birth: August 21, 1993
Shooting hand: Left
Jr Team: Nepean Knights Jr B, Mississauga Tomahawks Jr A
Sr Team: Langley Thunder
College: Robert Morris University
Who was your favourite player growing up? It’s hard to pick just one. I had so many players I loved to watch and idolized growing up but here are a few: Jeff Zywicki, John Grant Jr. and Callum Crawford.
What NLL player do you think your game is similar to or do you model your game after? As I mentioned earlier there’s so many players that I look up to or that have influenced my game. I’ve always tried to take things from not one person’s game but everyone’s. I like to watch how others excel and try and implement that skill into my game or put my own spin on it. I don’t like to compare myself to others because I think everyone is their own player but I’ve been told I play a little like Ryan Benesch, which I’ll gladly take; he’s a treat to watch.
What will you bring to the team that drafts you? First and foremost, hard work and dedication. From more of a lacrosse standpoint, I feel like I can bring some scoring touch and creativity to an offence. I’m comfortable with or without the ball and look forward to fulfilling either role.
What is your biggest accomplishment or the biggest moment of your lacrosse career so far? The biggest accomplishment of my career is not something I won or achieved on the floor but off of it. I had to overcome two back to back ACL meniscus surgeries which took me out of lacrosse for over two years. Those two years were the hardest of my life physically, mentally and emotionally. It felt like my dream of playing in the NLL was slipping away from me but I never game up.
Who would play you in the movie of your life? This is a stretch but Mark Wahlberg; he’s the man!