Steele Stanwick. Chris Bocklet. Colin Briggs. These three names may not mean much to those outside of the lacrosse community but for those "in the know," they might as well be James, Wade and Bosh.
This trio of the Virginia Cavaliers played their last game of collegiate lacrosse two weekends ago when they fell short in the national quarterfinal to Notre Dame. One of the most successful groups of players in the history of the sport, these three leave with numerous records, awards, personal acknowledgements and a national championship.
And a Bachelor's Degree.
In a sports world where we all gather around our television screens to see which NBA team will win a lottery in which the prize is a 6'10," 19-year-old who hasn't played on a bad team in his life, lacrosse remains one of the last bastions of true amateurism.
When Stanwick came to Virginia in 2009, he came in as the Anthony Davis of lacrosse. He was a pure attackman with immeasurable potential and ability that is rarely seen in the sport. Four years later, he has met all the expectations while also experiencing the highest of highs and lowest of lows.
As a freshman, Stanwick amassed 58 points—a Virginia rookie record—and was named ACC Rookie of the Year. All of this is commonplace for the top-rated recruit in any sport, however instead of wondering where his draft stock was, fans asked themselves where his ceiling ended.
He reached that ceiling last season—winning both the Tewaaraton award and a national championship—but had to return this season to attempt to blow the ceiling clear off. Where basketball and football players would have bolted, Stanwick had to stay another year.
His compatriots—Bocklet and Briggs—took different routes to the mountain top. Bocklet broke out as a sophomore as Stanwick's running mate, while Briggs had his coming-out party in the 2011 title game with a five-goal game. All three came back as seniors and led Virginia to a No. 4 seed in the tournament.
Would Bocklet and Briggs have had the impacts they had in their careers if Stanwick had left after his breakout freshman year? Would Virginia have won a title if he had left after his stellar sophomore year? These are all questions we don't need to ask because lacrosse is still doing things right.
Duke—a national semi-finalist this year—featured an attack unit with three sophomores and you better believe that all of them will leave with plenty of numbers, awards and recognition.
And a Bachelor's degree.