At 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, Emery has the rangy physique that allows him to look over defenses, get off a shot and find the open man. He also possesses great hands to go with the creativity and the speed (he's the fastest player on his team) necessary to play a the highest level.
St. Ignatius junior Rob Emery is the best high school lacrosse prospect in California, which is akin to being dubbed the best young baseball player in Russia or the most talented rising golfer in Iceland.
But Emery is not merely a standout player in California. He is regarded as the third-best recruit in the nation in the class of 2010 by Inside Lacrosse Magazine. In February, he verbally committed to Virginia, arguably the top program in the country.
“He’s the type of player who could play any sport in college,” first-year St. Ignatius coach Chris Packard said. “He’s too big, too fast and too tall.”
On a fateful spring day five years ago, Emery picked up a lacrosse stick for the first time at the urging of three classmates at the Town School in Pacific Heights. Baseball always had been his favorite sport, but that quickly changed.
“I fell in love right away,” Emery said.
At 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, Emery has the rangy physique that allows him to look over defenses, get off a shot and find the open man. He also possesses great hands to go with the creativity and the speed (he’s the fastest player on his team) necessary to play a the highest level.
Emery is the last person to take credit for his perch atop the ever-growing California lacrosse community, though. He points to the coaching he received at Town, the athleticism he inherited from his sporty parents and the recommendation Packard – a former Cornell player – provided to get him an invitation to last summer’s exclusive Nike Blue Chip Camp in Maryland. It was there that the West Coast kid left his imprint on discerning eyes.
Emery played seven games in two days in front of 50 head coaches and made the all-star team.
“He lit it up,” Packard said.
“He’s a special kind of athlete and I don’t think he understands yet how good he’s going to be.”
According to Inside Lacrosse associate editor Geoff Shannon, the buzz from coaches around Emery was significant.
“From our perspective, he had the athleticism,” Shannon said. “His ability to run the full field is important and his shot on the run – he demonstrated that early.”
Emery, the starting quarterback on St. Ignatius’ football team, has to play both offense and defense as a midfielder. He can be the point man on an attack and then retreat to play defense, like Bruce Bowen with a stick. Emery shuffles his feet quickly and doesn’t allow opponents a moment to create a play.
On a recent rainy afternoon in the Sunset District, Emery didn’t score a goal as St. Ignatius – the top team in Northern California – cruised to an 18-2 victory over Bishop O’Dowd. His effect on the game was subtle.
“The position of midfield doesn’t allow you to fill up a scorebook like attack does” Packard said.
Division I college recruits like Billy Mattimore (Lehigh), Carlton Fischer (Bucknell) and Will Fredericks (Loyola-Baltimore) find the net for the Wildcats while Emery plays his version of point guard – albeit a LeBron James style.
“Being able to run up and down the field allows me to be on the field longer and help the team in a lot of ways,” Emery said. “Whether that’s on a ground ball, a push in transition or settling things down if we need to. The little things are what I like to do best.”
And the little things are helping a late-bloomer spread the word that California lacrosse is no longer golf in Iceland or baseball in Russia.