There’s a reason Xander Dickson broke Virginia’s single-season scoring record this past season.
It’s also why Atlas drafted him with the No. 11 pick in the 2023 College Draft.
“Because he’s a pain in the butt,” Atlas offensive coordinator Steven Brooks said.
And meant with the utmost admiration.
On any lacrosse field, Dickson isn’t one to sit still. He’s constantly reading and reacting to unfolding plays around him, and almost always moving. He is, simply put, a headache for any defender who draws him.
He’s also just what Atlas needed.
With attackmen Chris Gray and Jeff Teat, Atlas has two savvy feeders, who both tied for the seventh-most assists (16) in 2022. Above the arc, midfielders Bryan Costabile and Romar Dennis can be found dodging around defenders. Atlas can pass, dodge and shoot. The team finished third in the league with 12.8 scores last season and first in two-point goals made (13).
Looking at the roster, Brooks said the type of player not listed was one who “could be effective without having the ball in his stick.”
So, heading into the 2023 Draft, Atlas coach Mike Pressler said he was prepared to trade down if he didn’t think Dickson, who he calls “an underrated dodger and arguably the best off-ball player from the draft,” would be available to take with the 11th pick.
Atlas had pick Nos. 1, 3, 11, 18 and 27. Pressler was set on building defensive depth with Atlas’ first two picks, which were used to draft Cornell’s Gavin Adler and Maryland’s Brett Makar, but was willing to make a draft-day trade for Dickson if necessary. Luckily, it wasn’t.
“We had our eye on him the entire time at No. 11,” Pressler said.