The National Lacrosse League has announced Buffalo Bandits forward Dhane Smith as Player of the Month and Georgia Swarm forward Randy Staats as Rookie of the Month for January of the 2016 NLL season.
Smith finished the month tied for second in the league in both points (31) and goals (13) and tied for the third-most assists (18) while recovering 28 loose balls, second-most among NLL forwards and tied for 12th-most overall. Smith, who leads the league with a 7.75 points per game average, has posted at least five points in every game with three eight-plus point performances and three games with three or more goals. Smith won the ‘Air Canada Wingman’ award for NLL Week 4 as the Bandits finished with a 2-2 record in January.”It’s a great honor to be chosen as the NLL Player of the Month for January,” Smith said. “This award wouldn’t be possible without the guys around me. My teammates put me in the best situation to make plays and help us win games.”Buffalo’s first-round (5th overall) selection in the 2012 NLL Draft, the 24-year-old from Kitchener, Ont. was named to the 2013 NLL All-Rookie Team. The four-year veteran has scored over 20 goals in each of his first three full seasons, highlighted by his 2015 campaign where he recorded 107 points (39+68).Staats leads all rookies in goals (11), assists (15) and points (26), and is ranked among the top six leaders in all major scoring categories in the NLL. Staats’ 26 points also is tied for first on the Swarm while his 11 goals and 15 assists rank second on the team. Staats had three hat trick performances and three six-plus point outings in January to go along with 22 loose balls. The Swarm finished the month 3-2 and in second place in the East Division.
“It’s humbling and I’m really honored to win Rookie of the Month,” Staats said. “It’s pretty special, there are a lot of good players that represent our rookie class. Obviously, I didn’t do it by myself. All the other guys on the Swarm have really helped me elevate my game.”The 23-year-old from Six Nations, Ont., who played collegiately at Syracuse University, was Georgia’s first-round (6th overall) selection in the 2015 NLL Draft. Staats was a Tewaaraton Trophy finalist in 2014 and two-time NJCAA Player of the Year at Onondaga C.C. in 2012 and 2013.The NLL Monthly Player Awards are determined by a vote of the league’s general managers and head coaches.