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Was Atlas’ Tyler Carpenter the steal of the 2024 PLL Draft?

Tyler Carpenter Tyler Carpenter - PLL

Tyler Carpenter, a native of Durham, N.C., was the ball boy for Mike Pressler back when he was the head coach at Duke. Now, Carpenter works more as a ground ball boy for the New York Atlas coach and general manager.

The rookie was taken in the fourth and final round of the 2024 PLL Draft out of Duke, where he led all non-faceoff specialists with 66 ground balls in his final season.

Four weeks into his first professional go, that’s unchanged. Carpenter leads all non-faceoff specialists in ground balls, and it's not even close. Carpenter's grabbed 24. Maryland Whipsnakes goalie Brendan Krebs ranks second among non-faceoff specialists with 16. The next non-specialist or non-goalie behind Carpenter is Whipsnakes long-stick midfielder Colin Squires with 13.

Carpenter has grabbed more ground balls than Boston Cannons faceoff man Zac Tucci (21) and only one fewer than the Denver Outlaws’ Luke Wierman despite them having more ground ball opportunities at the stripe. The rookie with the second-most ground balls behind Carpenter is teammate Connor Shellenberger, who’s picked up half of Carpenter’s total with 12.

And yet Carpenter lasted 26 picks on the draft board. It begs the question, was he the steal of the draft?

Consider his five caused turnovers and four points (2G, 1T) to go along with his ground ball total, and he just might be.

Carpenter is an immediate difference-maker on the faceoff wing and on the ground, and his addition to the team cost Pressler no major assets, unlike when New York traded Chris Gray to the California Redwoods for the No. 5 pick to snag goalie Liam Entenmann.

Jake Piseno and Stephen Zupicich were the two LSMs taken before Carpenter, who was the last of his position selected. Piseno has posted 10 ground balls, one caused turnover and one point in three games for the Outlaws this season. Zupicich has two ground balls, zero caused turnovers and one assist for the Whipsnakes in three games.

Beyond the numbers, no LSM newcomer’s presence is as evident on-field as Carpenter’s. The Atlas – who lead the league with 191 ground balls – have thrived in the short shot clock, starting with Trevor Baptiste and the wing play. Time after time, Carpenter surfaces with the ball after a battle on the ground and can pass it off quickly, allowing the Atlas to get right into offensive sets. 

But fail to pick him up, and he can score, too.

Carpenter’s name wasn’t mentioned among the likes of top picks Brennan O’Neill, Shellenberger and Pat Kavanagh in May. Less than two months later, it might not be up there among early Rookie of the Year candidates, but he’s made sure it’s a name to know.