Josh Aruy/USA Vollyeball photo

While California — and justifiably so — is known as the sport’s hotbed that has churned out so many great volleyball players over the years, we must continue not to sleep on the Land of Lincoln when it comes to the youth boys side of things.

A look at the 2023 Boys Fab 50 proves the state of Illinois, particularly the Chicago suburbs, continues to up the ante and crank out quality players that go on to play at significant NCAA Division I-II programs.

On the heels of having seven Illinois-based selections in 2022, this year 12 players from Illinois grace the Fab 50 list, which highlights the top 50 boys senior-age youth players in the nation as voted on by an elite panel of NCAA Division I-II coaches. has no involvement in the voting process beyond sending out the ballot and tabulating the final results.

The longest-running boys volleyball list in the country under the auspices of the 47-year-old Volleyball Magazine/ brand, the Boys Fab 50 takes into consideration a player’s overall skill level and is not exclusive to his high school, club or USA Volleyball prowess. Our annual boys high school All-American awards will be released this summer.

Drilling down deeper into that Illinois dozen, 11 different Chicago city-limit and suburban high schools are represented, along with seven different clubs (Ultimate leading the way with three Fab 50 picks) and nine different college inbound player recipients (Ball State and Loyola Chicago each have two Chicago-area signees).

Of course, California continues to be California with 22 Boys Fab 50 selections. No surprise there.

When it comes to college on this year’s list and what typically is a precursor to our men’s college recruiting class rankings in the fall, coach John Hawks’ Loyola Chicago Ramblers head the list with eight Fab 50 selections, followed by UCLA and Lewis with five each, and Pepperdine, USC, Hawai’i and George Mason with four each. Sixteen Division I-II programs had at least one Fab 50 selection.

Interesting this time around was voting for who the top player in the Class of 2023 is, which yielded no runaway winner, but two clear-cut choices with a decent voting gap after that.

USC signee Wes Smith (6-10 middle out of the San Diego area) is the top-ranked player. He edged UC Santa Barbara-bound George Bruening (Corona del Mar for high school and Balboa Bay for club out of Southern California) by two voting points.

Five different players received a first-place vote.

Smith joins a list of recent top Boys Fab 50 recruits that includes Dillon Klein (USC, 2022), Klistan Lawrence (Long Beach State, 2021), Clarke Godbold (Long Beach State, 2020) and Alex Knight (UCLA, 2019). Klein was named to the all-MPSF second team and the all-MPSF freshman team this spring. Godbold was the Big West freshman of the year in 2021, while Knight was a second-team All-American selection this past season and was named the most outstanding player of the 2023 NCAA men’s tournament, helping lead the Bruins to their 20th national title.

Luca Curci/Willie Reichenstein, UCLA Sports Media

After Bruening and Smith, the 2023 top five rounds out with fellow UCSB recruit Josh Aruya at No. 3, Luca Curci (UCLA) at No. 4 and Cole Schobel (Loyola Chicago) at No. 5. Sebastiano Sani (Long Beach State) and Jake Read (Loyola Chicago) tied for the sixth spot and Jakobi Lange (USC) was eighth in that top player voting.

Balboa Bay out of Southern California was tops in terms of clubs loaded with Fab 50 picks — with five. The previously mentioned Ultimate out of the Chicago suburbs, Pulse, out of Anaheim, California, Outrigger (Hawai’i) and The St. James (Virginia) each had three.

Twins also are part of the mix — two sets to be precise. Pepperdine-bound Jack and Ryan Graves make up one set of twins, while Luke and Zach Pekol out of the Chicago south suburbs is the other. Actually, the Graves twins are triplets along with sister, Madi.

Sebastiano Sani/Jackie Romo photo

As always, we also include our 25 Underclassmen to Watch List that highlights 25 top non-senior players around the country. Those on this list typically graduate to the Boys Fab 50 main list the next year. As a reminder, this is not a top-25 underclassmen list rather a list of 25 top non-seniors. And just like with the Fab 50, has no involvement with the voting, which was done by that same elite panel of NCAA Division I-II men’s coaches.

Some top vote-getters on this end include Sterling Foley (USC commit), Tread Rosenthal (Hawai’i commit), Travell Jordan (out of Arizona), Caleb Blanchette (USC commit), Parker Tomkinson (USC commit), Tyler Robinson (USC commit), Sean Kelly (Princeton commit), Finn Kearney (Hawai’i commit) and Cole Hartke (Pepperdine commit). Of note with the 25 list, all 25 players are in the Class of 2024 category (juniors who will be seniors in high school this fall).

Sterling Foley/USA Volleyball

2023 Boys Fab 50

Name, Position, High School, Club, College
Lukas Anderson, 6-4, RS, Loyola (Los Angeles, CA), MB Surf, Loyola Chicago
Josh Aruya, 6-8, MB, Mission Viejo (CA), Balboa Bay, UC Santa Barbara
Quinn Bishop, 6-3, OH, Dwyer (Palm Beach Gardens, FL), Ocean Bay, Harvard
Ignacio Brito, 6-4, OH, Columbus (Miami, FL), Miami United, Stanford
George Bruening, 6-8, RS, Corona del Mar (Newport Beach, CA), Balboa Bay, UC Santa Barbara
Marty Canavan, 6-5, OH-RS, Marist (Chicago, IL), Ultimate, Ball State
Nate Clinton, 6-4, OH,  Amador Valley (Pleasanton, CA), Bay to Bay, Stanford
Luca Curci, 6-3, OH,  Newport Harbor (Newport Beach, CA), Balboa Bay, UCLA
Jack Ebertin, 6-5, OH, St. Francis (Mountain View, CA), Bay to Bay, USC
Nate Egerstrom, 6-8, MB, Calabasas (CA), SoCal Legends, Penn State
Robert Evangelista, 6-2, OH, McQuaid Jesuit (Rochester, NY), Pace Bootlegger, George Mason
Jack Graves, 6-5, OH, Beckham (Irvine, CA), A4, Pepperdine
Ryan Graves, 6-6,  S, Beckham (Irvine, CA), A4, Pepperdine
Spencer Graves, 6-5, MB, Loyola (Los Angeles, CA), MB Surf, UCLA
Sean Harvey, 6-7, OH, Bartlett (IL), Future, Penn State
Cameron Hoying, 6-8, S, St. Francis DeSales (Columbus, Ohio), Vanguard, Lewis
Tyler Howard, 6-4, OH, Canyon (Anaheim, CA), Pulse, Loyola Chicago
Aidan Klein, 6-9, MB, Evanston (IL) Township, MOD, Loyola Chicago
Carson Kneisl, 6-6, OH, Arvada (Colorado) West, Front Range, Stanford
Jakobi Lange, 6-4, OH, Hinsdale (IL) Central, 630, USC
Charlie Ledford, 6-2, Libero, Cathedral (San Diego, CA), Wave, Loyola Chicago
Gray Mandelbaum, 6-7, MB,  Brentwood (Los Angeles, CA), Rockstar, Stanford
Matt Mazur, 6-8, RS, Lancaster (New York), Niagara Frontier, Pepperdine
Gabe Metcalf, 6-3, S,  La Canada (Flintridge, CA), Rockstar, George Mason
Derek Nagel, 6-10, RS,  Palatine (IL), Pipeline, George Mason
Gavin O’Brien, 6-8, MB, Neuqua Valley (Naperville, IL), Sports Performance, Loyola Chicago
Brad Pan, 5-8, Libero, Cupertino (CA), Mountain View, USC
Luke Pekol, 6-9, OH-RS-MB, Joliet (IL) Catholic, Uno, Lewis
Zach Pekol, 6-9, OH-RS-MB, Joliet (IL) Catholic, Uno, Lewis
Liam Phinizy, 6-8, OH-RS, Huntington Beach (CA), Pulse, Loyola Chicago
Jake Read
Jake Read, 6-4, OH, Newport Harbor (Newport Beach, CA), Balboa Bay, Loyola Chicago
Kai Rodriguez, 6-4, OH, Moanalua (Honolulu, Hawai’i), Outrigger, Hawai’i
Jaidin Russell, 6-5, RS-OH, Newton (Massachusetts) South, SMASH, UCLA
Sebastian Sanchez, 6-5, OH, Bishop Moore (Orlando, FL), Ocean Bay, George Mason
Sebastian Sani, 6-8, OH, Walter Johnson (Bethesda, Maryland), The St. James, Long Beach State
Kyle Saurer, 6-9, S, Elgin Academy (Elgin, IL), Sports Performance, BYU
Cole Schobel, 6-1, S, Mater Dei (Santa Ana, CA), Balboa Bay, Loyola Chicago
Michael Schwob, 6-5, S, Broadneck (Annapolis, Maryland), Annapolis, Penn State
Ryan Sears, 5-11, Libero,  Redondo Union (Redondo Beach, CA), SCVC, Hawai’i
Alex Smits-Van Oyen, 6-5, S, Coronado (Las Vegas, Nevada), Pulse, UC Santa Barbara
Wes Smith, 6-10, MB, La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, CA), Wave, USC
Tyler Stewart, 6-5, S, Prospect Ridge Academy (Broomfield, CO), Front Range, Pepperdine
Tyler Tharpe, 6-7, RS, Whitney Young (Chicago, IL), Ultimate, Ohio State
Justin Todd, 6-6, OH-RS, Moanalua (Honolulu, Hawai’i), Outrigger, Hawaii
James Vaccaro, 6-4, OH-S, Bishop’s (La Jolla, CA), Wave, Princeton
Tyler Walenga, 6-2, OH, Lincoln-Way East (Frankfort, IL), Ultimate, Lewis
Tristan Whitfield, 6-7, MB, Cape Henry Collegiate (Virginia Beach, VA), The St. James, Princeton
Michah Wong Diallo, 6-8, MB, Marshall (Los Angeles, CA), SoCal Legends, UCLA
Zach Yewchuk, 6-7, RS, Moanalua (Honolulu, Hawai’i), Outrigger, Hawaii
Peter Zurawski, 6-6, S, Oak Park-River Forest (Oak Park, IL), 630, Ball State
Thiago Zamprogno, 6-6, MB, Cardinal Gibbons (Ft. Lauderdale, FL), Ocean Bay, UCLA
Quinten Zilch, 6-2, Libero-OH, Shipley (Media, PA), The St. James, Lewis
Note: 52 players are listed in this year’s Boys Fab 50. There was a three-way tie for the 50th and final position, and as is custom, no ties for the final spot are broken.

Top Players in the Class

1. Wes Smith (USC)
2. George Bruening (UC Santa Barbara)
3. Josh Aruya (UC Santa Barbara)
4. Luca Curci (UCLA)
5. Cole Schobel (Loyola Chicago)
Cole Schobel/Tom Ambrose photo

25 Underclassmen to Watch List

Name, Height, Position, Year, High School, Club, College (if known)
Roan Alviar, 5-11, Libero, Jr., Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland, CA), Bay to Bay, NA
Caleb Blanchette, 6-5, S-RS, Jr., Ravenwood (Brentwood, Tennessee), C2 Attack, USC
Kaumana Carreira, 6-7, OH, Jr., Tesoro (Rancho Santa Margarita, CA), A4, NA
Kahale Clini, 6-4, OH-RS, Jr., Punahou (Honolulu, Hawai’i), Outrigger, UCLA
Christian Connell, 6-5, OH, Jr., Torrey Pines (San Diego, CA), Wave, USC
Sterling Foley, 6-6, OH, Jr., Corona del Mar (Newport Beach CA), Balboa Bay, USC
Gaige Gabriel, 6-8, MB, Jr., Exeter Township (Reading, PA), Yorktowne, Penn State
Riggs Guy, 6-3, OH-RS, Jr., Newport Harbor (Newport Beach, CA), Balboa Bay, NA
Cole Hartke, 6-10, OH, Jr., Barrington (IL), Sports Performance, Pepperdine
Ford Harman, 5-10, S, Libero, Jr., Santa Barbara (CA), Santa Barbara, Long Beach State
Travell Jordan, 6-8, MB, Jr., Desert Ridge (Mesa, Arizona), AZ Fear, NA
Raglan Kear, 6-5, OH, Jr., San Clemente (CA), 949, UC Santa Barbara
Finn Kearney, 6-5, RS-OH, Jr., Sandra Day O’Connor (Phoenix, Arizona), AZ Fear, Hawai’i
Sean Kelly/USA Volleyball
Sean Kelly, 6-6, OH, Jr., Loyola (Los Angeles, CA), MB Surf, Princeton
Kellen Larson, 5-7, Libero, Jr., Woodbridge (Irvine, CA), Balboa Bay, NA
Victor Loiola, 6-4, OH, Jr., Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach, CA), MB Surf, Long Beach State
Ian Nolte, 6-5, OH-RS, Wilson (Long Beach, CA), Rockstar, Ohio State
Isaiah Preuitt, 6-8, MB, Central Catholic (Portland, Oregon), AJAXVB, NA
Tyler Robinson, 6-8, MB, Mater Dei (Santa Ana, CA), Rockstar, USC
Trent Taliaferro, 6-4, S, Jr., Mission Viejo (CA), 949, UCLA
Parker Tomkinson, 6-10, MB, Jr., Carlsbad (CA), Wave, USC
Eamon Rigdon, 6-6, RS, Jr., Servite (Anaheim, CA), 949, NA
Tread Rosenthal/USA Volleyball photo
Tread Rosenthal, 6-8, S, Jr., Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach, CA), MB Surf, Hawai’i
Marek Turner, 6-5, RS, Jr., Wilson (Long Beach, CA), Rockstar, NA
Reed Wainright, 6-7, MB, Jr., St. Margaret’s Episcopal (San Juan Capistrano, CA), Balboa Bay, NA
Wes Smith/USA Volleyball photo


  1. Nobody from Wisconsin on either list. There used to be multiple a year. The collapse of Lightning has really hurt the state. Not only was the most successful club there now not a club, but Milwaukee VBC has gotten worse and Sting isn’t as good as Lightning or Milwaukee.


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