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Major League Pickleball Secures the "Johnson 5" on the Eve of the 2024 MLP Draft

by Peter Madden on

In a last-minute development on the eve of the 2024 Major League Pickleball Draft (Tuesday, 6 p.m. ET), the "Johnson 5" – JW Johnson, Dylan Frazier, Jorja Johnson, Gabe Tardio, and Milan Rane – have committed to playing United Pickleball Association (MLP/PPA) for the next three years, sources have confirmed to The Dink.

That brings the total amount of players locked in for MLP at 88.

This is a major development for MLP, which had seen a significant number of the game's top players choosing to withdraw their names from consideration for Tuesday's draft for a myriad of reasons.

This is also a big win for pro pickleball. Now that JW, Dylan, and Jorja are playing in MLP, they will be top 20 picks in the draft Tuesday. With these signings, the PPA/MLP have solidified the fact that they now have all of the top talent in pro pickleball at the highest level.

Major League Pickleball franchises sold, valuations in the tens of millions
The Dink has learned that the ATX Pickleballers and Milwaukee Mashers – two Major League Pickleball Challenger Level teams – have decided not to operate this year and were bought out by the newly formed UPA.

Tardio is also a lock for Premier Level. Rane has been doing very well at the APP and if she doesn’t get drafted to Premier, she will be an elite level Challenger player.

These signings brings five elite players over to the UPA and comes on the heels of the UPA signing five players away from the APP Tour last week. The following players signed exclusive contracts (meaning they cannot play APP events) last Monday:

  • Hunter Johnson
  • Yates Johnson
  • Alix Truong
  • Roscoe Bellamy
  • Craig Johnson
A Refresher for the Upcoming 2024 Major League Pickleball Draft
Now that Major League Pickleball is back, how are the teams constructed? We get you prepped for the April 2 draft with a refresher on how it works.

To summarize, even though we thought the "Tour Wars" were finally over, this latest development proved that it is not. The UPA has now signed away 10 of the APP Tour's top talents. These 10 players have cemented the fact that while the APP Tour has some extremely talented players, the UPA has the highest level of talent in professional pickleball.

The Dink will have every angle of the 2024 MLP Draft covered for you on Tuesday, with mock drafts, draft tiers, strategies and analysis of the draft.


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