Belmonte Selects Barrett First Overall in PBA Elite League Draft
Nine players in PBA history have won the Triple Crown. Two of them now bowl for the Bowlero L.A. X.
Jason Belmonte, the new player-manager of the L.A. X, selected Dom Barrett first overall in the PBA Elite League Draft on Wednesday night. Belmonte later added Tomas Käyhkö, Darren Tang and Keven Williams to join himself and Kevin McCune.
The PBA Elite League is an expansion of the PBA League, featuring six-player rosters, matches at every 2024 PBA Tour stop, and a six-team PBA Elite League Playoffs Finals at Bayside Bowl in September 2024.
Each of the league’s eight managers previously announced two protected players from their 2023 roster, leaving 32 roster spots to be filled out during Wednesday night’s draft, which was livestreamed on BowlTV.
To be eligible for selection, players must have finished in the top 50 on the 2023 points list or have been on a 2023 PBA League roster and won a PBA Tour title within the past 10 years. In the final round, the four players who did not meet the above criteria but were on 2023 PBA League rosters were eligible to be drafted.
The Waco Wonders, who drafted eighth overall in the traditional order, were unable to recover any players from their championship squad beyond the protected Ryan Ciminelli and player-manager Parker Bohn III.
The New Jersey KingPins scooped up BJ Moore fourth overall, the Motown Muscle seized Jason Sterner early in the second round, and Norm Duke swiped Frank Snodgass two picks before Bohn could even think about bringing back the young Michiganite in the final round.
Bohn, much like his predecessor Johnny Petraglia, appeared to value experience in the draft pool. He selected Stu Williams, Mitch Hupé, DJ Archer and Tom Hess with his four selections.
Bohn made his selections from Cali, Colombia, where he — and his fourth-round selection, Hess — are competing for Senior Team USA at the International Bowling Federation 2023 World Senior Championships.
The team Waco defeated in the 2023 Elias Cup Finals, however, had no such trouble securing their own guys. In fact, Portland Lumberjack manager Tim Mack was able to bring back his entire roster from 2023.
Mack first protected Kyle Troup and Kris Prather last week. Then on Wednesday, he selected “Franchise” Wes Malott, Graham Fach and Arturo Quintero, while mixing in two-time major champion Tom Smallwood for good measure.
Mark Baker deployed a similar strategy with his Akron Atom Splitters. Baker tabbed Tom Daugherty for a ninth consecutive year with the Atom Splitters and rekindled his coaching relationship with the 2015 Mark Roth PBA League MVP, Dick Allen.
Amleto Monacelli paired the protected Andrew Anderson and AJ Johnson with the 2019 Roth/Holman PBA Doubles Championship victors, Matt Ogle and Sean Rash, while bringing back Matt Russo and adding Thomas Larsen to his Las Vegas High Rollers.
Among the biggest surprises during the draft was the fall of Jakob Butturff, who finished fourth on the 2023 points list and earned a nomination for the Chris Schenkel PBA Player of the Year award.
Norm Duke, as he often seems to do, perhaps pulled off the heist of the draft in selecting Butturff with the 22nd overall pick for the Go Bowling! Dallas Strikers.
While Butturff said he understands why he fell in the draft — he said he dealt with a leg injury during the 2023 PBA League and said he “wasn’t in the right mind space” at the time — he said he is feeling a lot better and focused heading into the new year.
Two players will be making their debut in the PBA’s highest level of team competition — both for the Motown Muscle.
Justin Knowles, who was the highest ranked player in points not selected last season, and Zac Tackett were each selected by Motown’s new manager Jason Couch.
Zac is the younger brother of EJ Tackett, Motown’s leading man alongside Anthony Simonsen.
Wednesday turned out to be a memorable night in more ways than one for the Tackett family. During the draft, EJ’s wife Natalie posted on Facebook that the couple welcomed their first child into the world.
Unfortunately, it will be quite some time before the world’s youngest Tackett can earn his own eligibility for the PBA Elite League.
Santtu Tahvanainen was the highest ranked player who went undrafted. PBA Commissioner Tom Clark said during the draft that Tahvanainen, the 2022 Harry Golden PBA Rookie of the Year, is dealing with an injury and may miss the beginning of the 2024 season.
While the draft is complete, rosters are not final as trades can be made through Dec. 23. The trading window will reopen from March 4-14.
The first two rounds of the PBA Elite League competition will take place on Jan. 9.
Follow @PBATour on social channels for more coverage of the PBA Elite League.
Check out the new PBA Elite League homepage here.
PBA Elite League Draft Recap
1.01 - Dom Barrett, L.A. X
1.02 - Sam Cooley, Motown
1.03 - François Lavoie, Akron
1.04 - BJ Moore, New Jersey
1.05 - Matt Ogle, Las Vegas
1.06 - Shawn Maldonado, Dallas
1.07 - Wes Malott, Portland
1.08 - Stu Williams, Waco
2.01 - Tomas Käyhkö, L.A. X
2.02 - Jason Sterner, Motown
2.03 - Tom Daugherty, Akron
2.04 - Chris Barnes, New Jersey
2.05 - Matt Russo, Las Vegas
2.06 - Jake Peters, Dallas
2.07 - Graham Fach, Portland
2.08 - Mitch Hupé, Waco
3.01 - Darren Tang, L.A. X
3.02 - Justin Knowles, Motown
3.03 - Dick Allen, Akron
3.04 - Kyle Sherman, New Jersey
3.05 - Sean Rash, Las Vegas
3.06 - Jakob Butturff, Dallas
3.07 - Tom Smallwood, Portland
3.08 - DJ Archer, Waco
4.01 - Keven Williams, L.A. X
4.02 - Zac Tackett, Motown
4.03 - Nick Pate, Akron
4.04 - Richie Teece, New Jersey
4.05 - Thomas Larsen, Las Vegas
4.06 - Frank Snodgrass, Dallas
4.07 - Arturo Quintero, Portland
4.08 - Tom Hess, Waco
Bowlero L.A. X
Akron Atom Splitters
New Jersey Kingpins
Las Vegas High Rollers
Go Bowling! Dallas Strikers
Parker Bohn III
Read more on the PBA Elite League here.