In the opening theme song for the 1960s sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies, it said that “Californy is the place you ought to be.” And that’s definitely the case for the 2019 VolleyballMag.com Boys Fab 50, where California most definitely is the place to be.
The Golden State is teeming with entrants on this exclusive list, which ranks the top 50 senior boys players in the country. This is not a list of the top club or high school players, but rather an amalgamation of the top 50 players in the country — period. The list is not voted on by VolleyballMag.com staffers, but rather an elite list of NCAA Division I-II men’s coaches.
Thirty of the 50 players on the Fab 50 list call California home, while 17 of the 25 players on the 25 Underclassmen to Watch list are from California.
In terms of colleges, UCLA and Loyola Chicago tied for the lead with six Fab 50 signees each, while two-time national champion Long Beach State, Lewis and Stanford were a close second with five Fab 50s each. A total of 19 schools had at least one Fab 50 selection.
As far as top recruits in this class, UCLA signee and Pac6 club star Alex Knight was the panel’s choice as the No. 1 player in the class by a decent margin.
After that, it was a photo finish to get into the top five, with Stanford signee Will Rottman and Illinois standout Kevin Lamp, who will join Rottman on The Farm, tying for the No. 2 position.
UCLA recruit Merrick McHenry, from Hurst, Texas, was the No. 4 recruit based on voting, while there was a logjam for the final spot with Kevin Kauling, another Illinois-based Sports Performance standout along with Lamp, Texas, product Nathan Lietzke and Pepperdine signee Akin Akinwami tying for the fifth position.
Interesting to note is that two Texas players made the top five list, showing the continued progress of the boys game in that state.
A total of 27 club programs are repped in the Fab 50 with Southern California-based Balboa Bay and Pac6 each having four players on the list. Neighbor 949 and suburban Chicago-based Sports Performance each have three Fab 50s.
On the 25 Underclassmen to Watch list, SCVC’s Clarke Godbold, Balboa Bay’s Sebastian Rodriguez, and OCVC’s Ben Montplaisir and Grant Sloane were the top vote getters. The top 25 underclassmen in the country is a simple list of standout freshmen (there is one on the list this year), sophomores and juniors to keep an eye on going forward. This list was also voted on by the panel of NCAA Division I-II coaches.
2019 Volleyball Magazine Boys Fab 50 Top 5 Players 1. Alex Knight 2. tie, Will Rottman 2. tie, Kevin Lamp 4. Merrick McHenry 5. tie, Kevin Kauling 5. tie, Nathan Lietzke 5. tie, Akin Akinwami
Name, Height Position, High School, Club, College Akin Akinwumi, 6-6, RS-OH, Peninsula (Rolling Hills Estates, Calif.), Rockstar, Pepperdine Nick Amoruso 6-7, MB-OH, Commack (New York), LIVBC, UCSB Garo Barsemian, 6-6, OH-RS, Crescenta Valley (La Crescenta, California), Legacy, UC Irvine Max Beck, 6-8, MB, Canyon (Anaheim, California), Pulse, USC Carson Brandt, 6-4, RS, Glenbard East (Lombard, Illinois), Hitmen, Grand Canyon
Mason Briggs, 5-11, Libero, Bishop Alemany (Valencia, California), Legacy, Long Beach State Colton Brooks, 6-4, OH, Amador Valley (Pleasanton, California), Bay to Bay, Loyola Inaki Bustamante, 6-6, OH, Redondo Union (Redondo Beach, California), SCVC, Lewis Colman Chadam, 6-5, OH, Monte Vista (Danville, California) PacRim, Loyola Dayne Chalmers, 6-4, OH, Newport Harbor (Newport Beach, California), Balboa Bay, UCSB Adam Chang, 6-4, MB, Westview (San Diego, California), Wave, Stanford Taylan Cook 6-2, Libero, Sage Creek (Carlsbad, California), Coast, Loyola Adam Flood, 6-2, OH, Corona del Mar (Newport Beach, California) Balboa Bay, USC Nathaniel Gates, 6-8, MB, La Jolla (California), Coast, Stanford Cole Gillis, 6-4, OH, Branham (San Jose, California), Mountain View, UC Irvine Nathan Harlan, 6-4, OH-RS, Tesoro (Santa Margarita, California), 949, Long Beach State James Hartley, 6-6, OH, Marvin Ridge (Waxhaw, North Carolina), Carolina Union, Princeton Jackson Hickman, 6-4, OH, Boulder Creek (Phoenix, Arizona) AZ Fear, Lewis Ethan Hill, 6-7, MB, St. Margaret’s Episcopal (San Juan Capistrano, California), Balboa Bay, UCLA Justin Howard, 6-6, MB, Pacific Palisades (California), Pac6, Ohio State Marty Jepsen, 6-1, OH, Marist (Chicago, Illinois), Ultimate, Lewis Gavin Julien, 6-7, MB, Whitefish Bay (Wisconsin), Milwaukee VBC, BYU Joe Karlous, 6-0, S, Newport Harbor (Newport Beach, California), Balboa Bay, Pepperdine Kevin Kauling, 6-8, S, Neuqua Valley (Naperville, Illinois), Sports Performance, Lewis Alex Knight, 6-4, OH, Pacifica Christian (Santa Monica, California), Pac6, UCLA Aidan Knipe, 6-3, S, Huntington Beach (California), Team Rockstar, Long Beach State Kevin Lamp, 6-4, OH, Lake Forest (Illinois), Sports Performance, Stanford Nathan Lietzke, 6-5 S, St. Andrew’s Episcopal (Austin, Texas), Austin Juniors, Stanford Jake Maffett, 6-4, OH-RS, Los Alamitos (California), SCVC, Loyola Merrick McHenry, 6-7, OH-RS, Bell (Hurst, Texas), Austin Juniors, UCLA Cole Power, 5-11, Libero, Edison (Huntington Beach, California), Balboa Bay, UCLA Sebastian Negron, OH, Trabuco Hills (Mission Viejo, California), 949, Concordia Irvine Marcus Partain, 6-3, S, Palisades Charter (Los Angeles, California), Pac6, UCLA Nico Posivak, 5-11, Libero,Loyola (Los Angeles, California), Pac6, Princeton Will Rottman, 6-5, MB, Santa Barbara (California), SB Coast, Stanford Michael Sack, 6-8, MB, St. Laurence (Burbank, Illinois), Chicago VBC, Lewis Zach Schneider, 6-6, OH, Lockport (New York), Lockport VBC, Long Beach State Michael Scott, 6-7, MB, Carmel (Mundelein, Illinois), Adversity, Pepperdine Ethan Smith, 6-7, MB, Aliso Niguel (Aliso Viejo, California), 949, Harvard
Scott Solan, 6-7, RS, Palo Verde (Las Vegas, Nevada), Vegas United, Pepperdine Karl Stenlund, 6-8 OH, Beckman (Tustin, California), OCVC, Long Beach State Akhil Tangutur, 6-3, OH, Palisades (Pacific Palisades, California), Pac6, UC Irvine Donovon Todorov, 6-5, MB,University City (San Diego, California), Coast, UC Santa Barbara Matthew Tompkins, 6-2, OH, Trinity (Euless, Texas), STL HP, Ohio State Brian Voight, 6-5, S, Homestead (Mequon, Wisconsin), Milwaukee VBC, Loyola Kyle Vom Steeg, 6-7, RS, Aliso Niguel (Aliso Viejo, California), Balboa Bay, UCLA Griff Walters, 6-6, RS, El Camino (Sacramento, California), NCVC, Northridge Rico Wardlow, 6-5, MB, Bolingbrook (Illinois), Sports Performance, Purdue Fort Wayne Andrew Watts, 6-7, MB, Northport (New York), Long Island, Penn State Michael Wright,6-3, S-OH, Deep Run (Glen Allen, Virginia), ECVC, Ohio State Jack Yentz, 6-6, OH, Homestead (Mequon, Wisconsin), Milwaukee VBC, Loyola Note: There was a tie for the 50th spot, thus there are 51 names on this year’s list.
Boys 25 Underclassmen to Watch List Name, Height, Position, Year, High School, Club, College (if known) Wolf Beeuwsaert, 6-5, MB, Jr., San Clemente (California), 949, Unknown Owen Birg, 6-7, RS, Soph., Thousand Oaks (California), Sports Academy, Unknown Rees Barnett, 6-4, RS, Jr., Redondo Union (Redondo Beach, California), SCVC, Unknown Luke Benson, 6-6, OH, Soph., Newbury Park (Thousand Oaks, Calif.), Sports Academy, BYU Geste Bianchi, 6-5, RS-S, Jr., Laguna Beach (California), Balboa Bay, Unknown Trey Cole, 6-0, Libero, Jr., Connetquot (Bohemia, New York) , Academy, Pepperdine Joe Deluzio, 6-6, OH, Jr., The First Academy (Orlando, Florida), MVP, Pepperdine Jack Deuchar, 5-11, OH-Libero, Jr., Punahou (Honolulu, Hawaii), Spike and Serve, USC Josh Ewert, 6-1, OH, Fresh., Campolindo (Moraga, California), Pacific Rim, Unknown Andersen Fuller, 6-9, RS,Jr, Fayetteville-Manilus (Manilus, N.Y.), Pace Bootlegger, Pepperdine Evan Giorgi, 6-8, RS, Jr., Camarillo (California),SMBC, Lewis Clarke Godbold, 6-5, RS, Jr. Palos Verdes Penin. (Rolling Hills Estates., CA.), SCVC, Long Beach St. David Hawkins, 6-5, OH, Jr., Clovis (California), Pacific Rim, Unknown Omar Hoyos, 6-7, OH, Jr., Archbishop McCarthy (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.),MVP, Unknown Zeo Meyer, 6-4, S, Jr., Corona del Mar (Newport Beach, California), 949, BYU Ben Montplaisir, 6-6, OH-MB, Jr.,Woodbridge (Irvine, California), OCVC, Loyola Miles Partain, 6-3, S-RS, Jr., Palisades (Pacific Palisades, California), Pac6, UCLA Jacob Pasteur, 6-4, OH, Jr., Homeschooled (Westminster, Pa.), Yorktowne, Ohio State Jackson Reed, 6-1, OH, Jr. Cathedral (San Diego, California), 949, USC Sebastian Rodriguez, 6-5, OH, Jr., Redondo Union (Redondo Beach, CA), Balboa Bay, LBSU Justin Ross, 6-8, MB, Jr., Stevenson (Lincolnshire, Illinois), Adversity, Loyola Francesco Sani, 6-7, OH, Jr., Walter Johnson (Bethesda, Maryland), TVP, UC Irvine Grant Sloane, 6-7, OH, Jr., Northwood (Irvine, California), OCVC, UCLA Luke Turner, 6-5, OH, Jr., Loyola (Los Angeles, California), SCVC, Unknown Henry Wedbush, 6-3, S, Jr., Loyola (Los Angeles, California), SCVC, Unknown