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First overall pick Jones to join with Class, Matheis for expansion Atlanta Blaze

All 3 Blue Devils were picked by the Blaze in January's MLL Draft

<p>Senior Myles Jones was selected first overall by the Atlanta Blaze in January’s Major League Lacrosse draft, where he will join teammates Deemer Class and Case Matheis after the season.</p>

Senior Myles Jones was selected first overall by the Atlanta Blaze in January’s Major League Lacrosse draft, where he will join teammates Deemer Class and Case Matheis after the season.

Myles Jones, Deemer Class and Case Matheis will all wrap up illustrious college careers this spring, but the end of their senior years will not mark the end of their time on the field together.

Jones was selected by the Atlanta Blaze with the first overall pick in the 2016 Major League Lacrosse draft Jan. 22, and the Blaze added Class and Matheis with the 10th and 53rd overall picks, respectively. For the three teammates, it was a pleasant surprise to have the opportunity to continue their careers on the same team.

“It’s very exciting—very exciting day sitting on the couch, hanging out with those guys and all our names get called for the same team,” Jones said. “I think that we can really take a new program like Atlanta to the next level with our chemistry that we’ve already built over four years.”

Jones is a two-time All-American and won the Donald McLaughlin Jr. Award last year as the nation’s top midfielder, making the Huntington, N.Y., native a clear choice for the expansion Blaze squad to build its franchise around. After he was taken first, the other Blue Devils had to wait and see where they would end up.

The trio will also be reunited with former teammates Chris Hipps and Josh Dionne, who were both seniors on Duke’s 2014 team that won a second straight national championship. The Blaze took Hipps from the Chesapeake Bayhawks in the expansion draft, and Dionne joined the team by way of the supplemental draft after beginning his pro career with the Charlotte Hounds.

With the Blaze preparing for their first season, head coach and general manager John Tucker was looking for players that would have experience with each other to mitigate the effect of an entirely new team coming together at once. When he had the chance to provide Jones with the support and familiarity of his college teammates, he jumped at the opportunity.

“I was talking to the coach—he likes a lot of guys who have a lot of chemistry together, and obviously Deemer and I have been playing on the same midfield line since we got here,” Jones said. “We’ve played really well off each other and we know each other—where we’re going, what we’re thinking at all times and it’s very easy to play with someone who you’ve played with four years.”

Although Jones is the most highly touted of the group, Class and Matheis should both be major contributors in the pros as well. Class is a two-time All-American in his own right alongside Jones at midfielder, and Matheis has started since his freshman year on attack, tallying 133 career points.

The MLL season spans from April to August, with the Blaze playing their first game in franchise history April 23 against the Bayhawks. The Blue Devil trio will not be on the field for at least the season’s first two games while Duke’s regular season winds down—and could miss the first four if they make one final run to the season’s final weekend—but the three seniors are in no hurry to play at the next level after last year’s unceremonious early exit from the NCAA tournament at home against Ohio State.

“It’ll be fun when it comes around, but honestly I haven’t really thought about it too much,” Class said. “This [season] is all I’m really focused on, but of course it’s going to be great and it’ll be good to play with some other Duke guys.”

The 16-11 loss to the Buckeyes snapped a streak of eight consecutive Final Four appearances and kept the Blue Devils from winning a third straight national title. Jones, Class and Matheis are the heart of this year’s senior class and are determined to lead Duke to a deep NCAA tournament this year, but if their college careers are stopped short of a storybook ending on Memorial Day in Philadelphia, the prospect of playing together in Atlanta may make the agony of defeat more bearable.

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