As you may have heard, Brian Kelly pulled out the Mike Brey card from his deck and inserted it into the Arik Armstead sweepstakes. The head coach of the men's basketball team visited the Elk Grove native - who is set to graduate in a few days and is an early enrollee candidate - on Monday and talked to him about the prospects of playing basketball (hello Julius Peppers) as early as December 17th (the first game after the Fall Semester ends), when the Irish travel to Indianapolis to play Indiana in what is being called another "neutral site" game.*
*Seriously, who's scheduling these games and allowing them to be called "neutral site" games? First, Missouri in Kansas City, Maryland in D.C. and now IU in Indianapolis? #GettingScrewed #ThisHashtagDoesntMakeSense
4pointshooter** took a closer look at Armstead's game on the hard court to see what how he'd fit in and what he'd be able to contribute to Brey's squad both in the present and coming years.
**Yeah, I just referred to myself in the third person- whatcha gonna do about it?
Highlight videos and commentary after the jump.
To start things off with the obvious, Armstead is very big and very strong. At 6'8"/280***, he would immediately's add size to the Irish frontcourt but also elite level athleticism which is something none of the current Irish big men (Jack Cooley, Tom Knight, Mike Broghammer) have been gifted with.
***Personally, I'd like to see Armstead come down to about 265 to improve his mobility and stamina, something he'll need to do to play in the Big East (or possibly the ACC - wait, what?)- I imagine this would help his football game as well.
Another trait that sets Armstead apart from the current Irish big men is his ability to put the ball in the basket in all sorts of ways. While his back-to-the-basket game is a bit raw, Armstead possesses good touch around the rim and a shooting range that extends to the 3-point line. His athleticism gives him good balance and footwork in all situations and he also has big hands that he knows how to use on both ends of the court, be it catching the ball in traffic or blocking a shot. His training as a defensive lineman allows him to go at full speed and play with a high motor every moment he's on the floor.
But these videos only show so much, and there are plenty of question marks about how Armstead specifically can fit into Brey's system. First off, Armstead only has one year of varsity basketball - when he averaged 12 points and 6 rebounds a game - under his belt and is still very raw as a player. In addition because of the intricate motion offense he runs, Brey values ball skills like passing and dribbling in all of his players, including the big guys (think Tyrone Nash, not so much Jack Cooley). Armstead likely won't be able to grasp the offensive and defensive rotations instantly (after all, there are a few legitimate - as well as illegitimate - reasons why Brey doesn't like to play young guys) and these hoops won't be easy to jump through.****
**** See what I did there?
Numerous recruiting sites have Armstead rated as THE top football prospect in this class and Notre Dame would be very lucky to have him. Right now, Kelly has two things going for him - 1. the offer to play both sports is stronger at Notre Dame than at any of his other suitors (Alabama, Texas, Oregon, Cal), and 2. Notre Dame is recruiting Armstead as DE - the position Armstead prefers (Can you imagine a pass rush of Lynch-Tuitt-Armstead on third down? I would hate to be an offensive lineman that faces ND for the next few years) - while most other schools are recruiting him as an OT. But given his relative inexperience combined with the intricacies of Brey's system, expecting Armstead to make an immediate impact on the basketball court does seem a bit far fetched for now. That said, I'm really looking forward to the Arik Armstead-Zach Auguste front court (to go along with Cameron Biedscheid, Pat Connaughton and Jerian Grant - oh my,,, clean up on aisle 5) in 2014- if things go as planned, that projects to be quite beastly.