By: James Youness
PUEBLO, Colo. – Coming into next week’s 2023 PBR Team Series Draft with three available spots on its protected roster, the most vacancies amongst all eight teams, the Kansas City Outlaws are concentrating on ways to complement its Core Four of returning riders.
“When we finished the year, obviously we were disappointed about Las Vegas (at the Team Series Championship), but we really liked our core four that we had. We’ll look to this draft to expand on that core four,” Outlaws general manager Jim Smith shared with PBR Now! host Fanchon Stinger.
Looking to the future, while remaining dedicated to the talents of Kyler Oliver, Bob Mitchell, Marcus Mast and Koltin Hevalow, there’s a lowest common denominator that Sharp and his team are looking for when it comes to ushering in the next wave of 5-on-5 talent.
“We have something called the Outlaw Attitude, and those four guys that we have fit it,” Sharp offered.
“Now we’re looking for three more guys who can fill out our protected roster, and then also looking to add to the practice squad. We want to set the culture of the Outlaw Attitude that we have for the Kanas City Outlaws.”
With the Iron Man J.W. Hart serving as the team’s head coach, it’s a no-brainer that toughness continues to play a huge role in how the Outlaws operate, but as the mentor noted on a recent edition of PBR Now!, being a member of the organization is about a whole lot more than just 8 seconds.
“With Lennie and Jim and the ownership that we have, that’s just the mentality that we have,” Hart told Stinger on the Cowboy Channel Studio set.
“That we don’t quit. That we have the gravel in our guts from the start to the finish and we see the job done. And we give it our best effort every single time. If you do that and you put that 100% effort into every time you do anything, you’ll receive the best results possible.”
“That’s part of my focus for the team, not to build bull riders, but to build men.
A big believer in his head coach’s approach, Sharp understands his leader’s ability to connect with his team.
“I think that’s one of the underrated characteristics of J.W. in that he really cares about these guys as riders and as people and I think they really can sense that,” he said.
“When you come to a camp at J.W.’s place, you really feel part of the family; that there is a real belief that the holistic approach to bull riding matters; you have to be a great bull rider, but you also have to be a great person, and we can help build those skills in both areas.”
Entering Wednesday night’s draft with the No. 2 overall selection in the series’ second-ever draft, Sharp, Hart and company will surely be able to come away with a skilled rider.
If they stay at No. 2, that is!
“Having that No. 2 pick puts us in a really unique position, because we’ll either get a great bull rider, or we’ll make a big move to get a bunch of good bull riders and good bull rider capital moving forward.”
Peeling back the curtain with the possibility of moving out of the second spot, it could be a wise strategy for the group who needs depth overall, but especially right-handed riders.
How high the organization has the top-ranked righties on their board could weigh heavily in the decision.
“We plan on really digging through that list and digging deep. Meeting with those guys and researching, studying them, doing our homework on them,” Hart shared.
“We’ll take the best guy (available) that’s in that draft. It’s no secret, we’re really heavy left-handed right now. We do need a righty, so in my opinion, we have to go get the No. 1 righty, get a couple right-handed guys if we can. We have an eye on them.”
Despite ending the regular season in seventh place, before eventually getting knocked out early during the season-ending event’s Last Chance Game on the opening night of competition, all within a season where the organization dealt Dalton Kasel to the Austin Gamblers, there’s a lot of excitement heading into Year Two.
“I’ll say, early on it was, at times, frustrating for all of us because we were learning together. We were truly building the airplane as we were flying it, but it was so exciting to see all of the success from the first year and now the energy going into the second year of PBR Teams.”
With the organization announcing Thursday morning that it’s hired PBR legend Guilherme Marchi as assistant coach, there’s plenty planned for the orange and black contingency.
“We’re getting a real league-wide competition going right now and it’s going to be real great thing,” Sharp concluded.
“I’m jacked; so excited for this upcoming season.”
Bull riding fans will of course be tuned into the 2023 PBR World Finals: Unleash The Beast May 12-21 as the showcase gets set to begin Friday night, but can keep an eye out for Kansas City Outlaws to make some noise the 2023 PBR Team Series Draft on Wednesday, May 17.
Fans can stay tuned to PBR.com and PBR social media channels throughout the two-weekend showcase for the latest updates, news and wrecks involving World Finals and the 2023 PBR Team Series Draft.
Photo courtesy of Josh Homer/Bull Stock Media
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