Six years after the league’s inception, the Predators’ commitment to youth hockey is starting to pay dividends, demonstrated by the four former Jr. Preds selected in this week’s United States Hockey League draft.
Midstate natives Ben Schultheis and Luke Robinson were picked in the first phase of the draft on Monday, while Hendersonville native Lucas Bahn and Brentwood’s Andrew Sinard joined them in the second phase selection on Tuesday.
“It says that just because kids are from the south doesn’t mean that they’re not making an impact on the game,” Schultheis said. “I think that the the Jr. Preds have really helped to grow the game around Nashville and they’ve been instrumental in my development and the development of players around Nashville.”
Schultheis was the first player from Tennessee to come off the board when he was taken with the 14th pick of the fourth round by the Green Bay Gamblers.
The 16-year-old went into the draft with the most buzz among Tennessee players after being the state’s lone representative in the Team USA Under 17 National Team Development Program in Plymouth, Mich., at the USA Hockey Arena in March.
Robinson, who is from Brentwood but moved to San Jose last year to join the Sharks’ development team, was the next to go when the Des Moines Buccaneers selected him with the second pick of the ninth round.
Schultheis and Robinson — former teammates — were the only two local players taken in Phase I, which is only for players born in 2000.
Bahn, a Hendersonville native and University of New Hampshire commitment, was taken by the Waterloo Black Hawks in the seventh round of Phase II, which is for players born in or before 1999.
Sinard was taken in the 16th round by the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. Like Schultheis and Robinson, he was a member of the TPH Thunder AAA hockey squad.
Parker named successor at PJPII: Chris Parker has been hired as the next baseball coach at Pope John Paul II High School in Hendersonville.
“The resume intrigued me,” PJPII athletic director and assistant baseball coach John Dempsey said. “You sit down and talk to Chris and see how passionate he is about the game. He wants to develop baseball players.”
“I owe coach (Michael) Brown a lot of respect,” the 42-year-old Parker said. “We used to play back when I was at Cascade. I can’t say enough about the job he’s done. I think we can build on what coach Brown has done and make it not (just) a state but a national powerhouse.”
Parker succeeds Michael Brown, who recently announced that he would resign. He compiled a 174-110 record in his nine-season tenure as coach of the Knights.
Parker is in the midst of his second season at East Hickman after head-coaching stops at Cascade, Blackman and Forrest. He led all three programs to state tournament appearances.
Pope John Paul II is second in Division II-AA East/Middle Region, but could vault into the top spot with sweep of first-place McCallie this weekend.
Metro trio moving on: A trio of Midstate high school seniors — Hillsboro’s Thomas Smith, Hillwood’s DaQuan Summers and Cane Ridge’s Jimmy Greer — will be continuing their basketball careers at the collegiate level next season.
Smith, a 6-foot-5 forward, signed a letter of intent with Lawson State Community College in Birmingham, Ala., on Monday, while Summers and Greer committed to Division III Maryville College and NAIA school Martin Methodist, respectively.
Smith, a Tennessean All-Midstate first-team selection and two-time Region 6-AAA MVP, averaged 16.7 points and 8.8 rebounds while shooting 44 percent from the field last season, helping lead the Burros to a 21-8 record and a second consecutive Class AAA quarterfinal appearance.
Summers, a 6-foot-1 combo guard, posted 17 points, six rebounds and 2.5 assists per game in 2015-16, helping lead the 17-11 Hilltoppers to a Region 6-AAA quarterfinal appearance.
Greer, an All-District 12-AAA selection, averaged a team-leading 17 points per game for Cane Ridge a season ago, and the 6-foot point guard also contributed 1.8 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 1.3 steals for the District 12-AAA runner-up Ravens.