2023-24 NLL Preview: What's in Store for Las Vegas in Year Two?


Jack Hannah was a rookie of the year nominee in 2022-23.

With the 2023-24 National Lacrosse League season set to begin Dec. 1-2, USA Lacrosse Magazine is going team by team in the days leading up to the opener. Today, we take a deep dive on the Las Vegas Desert Dogs.


2022-23 Record: 5-13
Head Coach: Shawn Williams, second season
 Assistants: Ken Millin, Phil Wetherup, Kurtis Wagar

Additions: Casey Jackson, F (San Diego); Adrian Sorichetti, T (Albany); Thomas Vaesen, F (Albany); Dylan Watson, F (draft)
Departures: Sam Firth, F (Albany); Jackson Suboch, D (Vancouver)


Can the Desert Dogs make a leap in year two?

The Desert Dogs experienced the difficulties you’d expect from an expansion franchise last season, finishing fifth in the Western Conference and 14th among all teams in goals scored. While there were bright spots — including a 92-point season from Rob Hellyer and the emergence of American rookie forward Jack Hannah — even head coach and general manager Shawn Williams would admit Las Vegas is a ways away from where it would like to be.

While Williams made tweaks to the roster through free agency, most notably bringing in former 60-point scorer Casey Jackson from San Diego, the Desert Dogs will largely rely on younger players for improvement.

Three of the team’s top five scorers last season were in their first or second NLL season, and its leader in caused turnovers, John Wagner, is only 26. The team’s two 2022 first rounders are set to join the fold, including its first-ever draft pick, No. 2 selection Dylan Watson. He has a 47-point season in the Western Lacrosse Association under his belt and is set to make the leap alongside defenseman and fellow 2022 first rounder Jake Saunders.

Williams is emphasizing gradual growth for the franchise. Will it remain on the right path this season?

Can Jack Hannah be the next great American player?

Building a successful expansion franchise rests largely on finding diamonds in the rough, and Jack Hannah qualifies. The former 31st overall pick in the 2021 draft by Panther City, Hannah made an immediate impact in his rookie season for Las Vegas.

He was the only first-year player in the NLL to record over 30 goals and 30 assists in the regular season — finishing second on the team in production behind Rob Hellyer — in addition to snagging 61 loose balls. It was enough to earn him a Rookie of the Year nomination alongside Jonathan Donville and Brett Dobson.

And that’s all with minimal box experience, as Hannah did not begin dabbling in the discipline until suiting up for the Americans during a U18 tour of British Columbia. The signs were there for the Milford, Ohio, native thanks to his peak athleticism and strong performances in the Ohio Collegiate Box Lacrosse League in the time since his box debut, but few thought it would translate this soon.

Have the Desert Dogs found a foundational piece in Hannah, and can he reach the heights of fellow countrymen Joe Resetarits and Tom Schreiber?


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