Grading the 2024 Major League Pickleball Draft Picks

Grading the 2024 Major League Pickleball Draft Picks

Major League Pickleball just completed its 2024 Premier Level draft, meaning we're starting to understand where professional, team-based pickleball is headed this year.

Before I dive in to the grades, a few surprising things that I want to mention...

Notable veteran players not drafted: Rafa Hewett (MLP DAWG), Pat Smith (who has been playing great lately), Irina Tereschenko (5-time MLP champion), DJ Young (though was Challenger last year too), AJ Koller (could be injured), and Travis Rettenmaier (also might be injured).

Notable up-and-comers not drafted: Jaume Martinez Vich (he's a beast and improving by the day), Jack Munro, Roscoe Bellamy, Daniel De La Rosa, Collin Shick (thought Jack would draft him maybe), Ewa Radzikowska (winning machine at MLP), Vivian Glozman, Brendan Long, and I'm sure I'm missing others.

The draft format and production must be better: No one had a clue what was going on leading up to the draft. The format was confusing. It should have been $1M dollars for everyone.

Not sure why they needed to do yet another cash grab from owners. The production was really lacking. When will they learn?

MLP 2024 Draft Results & Grades

Seattle Pioneers (Ben Johns, Andrea Remynse Koop, Jessie 'Trinity' Irvine, Collin Johns) = B+

I don't know how teams allowed Ben to get Collin. Someone should have bit the bullet. This team has by far more pickleball reps than any team in the league and there's something to be said about old trusty vets who have played A LOT together and against each other.

Ben and Collin might lose a couple of games all season, and while Jessie and Andrea aren't spring chickens, they are smart, solid, and will hold down the fort.

I think Collin and Andrea make for a great mixed team and obviously Ben and Jessie will be dangerous. Jessie will know her role and is as smart as any player out there. Actually, the IQ level of this team is off-the-charts.

Columbus Sliders (Riley Newman, Meghan Sheehan-Dizon, Connor Garnett, Brooke Buckner) = B+

The men's duo of Riley and Connor is different and potentially very strong. I'm surprised Connor dropped to the third round. Meanwhile, Meghan seems to be at her best in MLP.

I don't know a ton about Brooke, but if she can hold her own, then this team could definitely be holding the trophy when all is said and done.

Dallas Pickleball Club (JW Johnson, Jorja Johnson, Tyra Black, Augie Ge) = B+

JW and Jorja together is a total home run, and the combo of Tyra/Jorja is going to be lethal.

I haven't seen a ton of Augie, but he's definitely been a name to watch lately and having three solid all-stars will definitely make him more comfortable in his first go-around at MLP.

JW hasn't been at his best in the team format since the early MLP days, but with Jorja by his side, I think we'll see the upside of JW.

DC Pickleball Club (James Ignatowich, Rachel Rohrabacher, Dekel Bar, Allyce Wilson-Jones) = B-

I love this mix of young blood in James and Rachel with the old guard in Dekel and Allyce.

James and Dekel will be a force at the baseline and the kitchen while Rachel and Allyce will play with more heart than any women's duo out there.

I also love the potential mixed pairs of James with Rachel and Dekel with Allyce. Dekel hasn't been great at MLP since I can remember, but I think this might be the right mix to get him there.

Arizona Drive (Andrei Daescu, Dylan Frazier, Lacy Schneemann, Kaitlyn Christian) = B-

Andrei Daescu might be the best player in the world right now, and Dylan Frazier might have as much potential as any player in the world.

Dylan has never truly shined at MLP, and if it's going to happen, it might very well be with Andrei. Their hands are going to be tough to get a single ball by.

The women's side of things is a bit more of an unknown. Lacy has had moments of greatness at MLP, but I've also seen her look a bit lost. I don't know much about Kaitlyn, but she's one of the hot names on tour, so perhaps she's this year's Rachel Rohrabacher.

New York Hustlers (Jack Sock, Jackie Kawamoto, Lea Jansen, Carson Klinger) = B-


The combo of Jack Sock and CJ Klinger are going to be fast, odd, and furious. You won't find two more athletic guys on the same team, and I can't wait to see Jack try to bring more personality out of the 'youngin.

I surely hope they face-off against the Johns bros. Jack and Jackie or Lea is going to be dangerous. I think Lea could soar with Jack by her side as he'll keep her positive and Lea will likely respect Jack's pedigree.

Jackie is as solid as they come, so whether she's with Jack or CJ, she'll absolutely be the rock. Lea and Jackie also will be an interesting duo and could cause some serious static.

LA Mad Drops (Catherine Parenteau, Thomas Wilson, Jade Kawamoto, Hunter Johnson) = B-

This team is gonna be real fun to watch. Catherine Parenteau and Thomas Wilson are proven MLP entities and won a championship together with the Mad Drops.

Hunter Johnson was a Premier League fill-in before last season and got dealt a bad hand with his former team. Thomas and Hunter are great friends and played excellent pickleball at PPA Austin, so I expect big things out of them.

Jade, like her sister, will be a rock for this team and will pair nicely with Hunter or Thomas.

St. Louis Shock (Anna Bright, Hayden Patriquin, Gabriel Tardio, Kate Fahey) = B-/C+

I am really torn here on their grade. On one hand I don't know ANYTHING about Kate Fahey, but on the other hand I trust Anna Bright to pick diamonds in the rough. She proved she could do it with Viv Glozman and Rachel Rohrabacher.

Anna Bright and either Hayden or Gabe are going to bring some potency, and Gabe and Hayden together will be as fun to watch as any men's team.

Gabe seems to be really coming into his own right now and Hayden is an MLP beast. Their grade ultimately will come down to if the masked woman Kate Fahey can hold her own.

Orlando Squeeze (Federico Staksrud, Vivienne David, Parris Todd, Jay Devilliers) = C+

On paper this team looks good, but I think what happens in reality is anyone's guess. Federico Staksrud has come leaps and bounds since this time last year, and Parris Todd has won two MLP championships.

With that said, Parris took time off from MLP and hasn't fully come back to form since then. Vivienne David will be all smiles and I think a fun partner for Parris. I'm guessing she'll play mixed with Jay.

I really don't understand why Fed didn't choose his homie Pablo or Jaume. It doesn't make any sense. Jay is a weird one. He still has all the tools, but I can't remember the last time he sat atop a podium. With that said, I'll always root for the Flying Frenchman, and this team as a whole is very easy to root for.

EDIT: Jason Aspes just informed me that "Parris and Viv both right side players. Fed couldn’t pick Pablo because he’s a lefty and neither girl comfortable playing left with Pablo."

New Jersey 5's (Anna Leigh Waters, Zane Navratil, Mari Humberg, Will Howells) = C-

It's hard to give any team with ALW a C-, but I'm struggling to find matchups that this team will win beyond maybe ALW and Zane.

Anna Leigh has been streaky in the MLP format, and while Zane has had a ton of success at MLP, I'm curious how they would be as mixed partners.

I know next to nothing about Mari and Will except for the fact that Will trains with Anna Leigh in Florida, and one must guess that she didn't draft these two without knowing a thing or two about their abilities.

At the very least, this will be an interesting team to keep an eye on.

Utah Black Diamonds (Tyson McGuffin, Callie Jo Smith, Tyler Loong, Alix Truong) = C-/D+

There are so many question marks with this team:

1) Is Tyson McGuffin healthy?

2) Is Callie still able to be the beast that she once was?

3) Will Tyson and Tyler kill each other?

4) Is Alix Truong ready for primetime?

It really feels like owner Connor Pardoe may have been trolling pickleball fans with this team. Callie and Tyler make sense given the Utah connection, but Tyson and Tyler have been known enemies and had a couple of run-ins.

Perhaps this is just what they need to squash their beef, and in theory, they could be quite good together.

Callie and Alix will be an interesting combo as well. Who knows, I could be totally wrong here, but my gut says the three leaders on this team are on the back half of their careers.

Texas Ranchers (Christian Alshon, Marietta Wright, Tina Pisnik, Pablo Tellez) = D-

From the beginning of this draft, this team had me scratching my head.

Christian is a great player, no doubt, but felt like a reach at #7 and for $560k. I believe he could have absolutely been had in the 2nd round, and while he's had a ton of success at MLP, he's always been on great teams with Alphas or amazing women.

I'm not certain he's ready to be the leader of a Premier team, but I'd love to be proven wrong.

I love Etta. She is a beast. Nothing to fault with this pick.

Tina Pisnik felt like a massive reach as well. She went ahead of a TON of talented women and I wouldn't have been surprised if she dropped to Challenger.

I'm guessing the Ranchers know something I don't know. Pablo Tellez feels like a steal in the last round, and he and Christian did win Challenger together a couple of seasons ago.

But that was against much lesser talent. I struggle to see how this team will win any matches. I think they are going to have to stack the lineup with Christian and Etta and hope the rest can eek out some wins.

Now, we await the Challenger Picks. Find a full MLP event schedule here.

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