Welcome to another edition of the Notre Dame hoops recruiting big board. An evaluation period just ended, with many coaches, including Irish head coach Mike Brey, descending upon Sacramento for an elite EYBL showcase featuring many of 2015's top prospects, including some Irish targets.
Brey made recruiting news in March when he decided to move on a 2014 point guard late in the cycle and added Matt Farrell to the fold. Brey likened Farrell to former Irish point guard Kyle McAlarney, and it is an offer that makes even more sense when taking a closer look at the Irish scholarship chart moving forward.
|Notre Dame Scholarship Chart & Eligibility
Notre Dame secured some valuable backcourt depth with Farrell to team up with rising sophomores Demetrius Jackson and Steve Vasturia, not to mention returning 5th-year guard Jerian Grant, putting the program in good shape for the next few years.
Absent any late addition on the transfer market, the Irish will have one vacant scholarship entering the 2014-2015 season as well as two more that will be vacated after the season by the expiring eligibility of Grant and Pat Connaughton. This gives Mike Brey and his staff three scholarships to work with for the 2015 recruiting class.
In order to replace Grant and Connaughton, the staff has made its efforts clear to grab a shooting or combo guard with one of the scholarships and a wing player and potential three-point specialist with another.
For that last open spot, they remain in evaluation mode that, with no obvious numbers deficiency at any position, is still very much in the air, although every effort will likely be made to give it to a post player.
Below are the 2015 recruits offered thus far and, following those names, some others that Notre Dame is monitoring and may make a move on in the summer evaluation period:
The Irish staff remains in the market for a replacement for Jerian Grant at shooting guard and have kicked the tires on a few additional names. The only offer went out to Cornell transfer Nolan Cressler, who committed to Vanderbilt while on a visit. Reggie Cleveland all-star Camron Justice is another player who was likely on the verge of a Notre Dame offer but decided to commit to Vanderbilt as well.
Expect this list to grow in the summer months, with a couple of names in the 'Others to Watch' category to, well, watch for offers soon.
It looked as though the Irish had a decent chance with Donte Divincenzo after he visited almost immediately upon receiving an offer. He curiously did not even include the Irish in his top 6 shortly thereafter, however, and has since committed to Villanova.
Antonio Blakeney and King McClure are two other big time prospects reportedly with offers, but the latter just committed to Baylor this week, and the former has yet to give much indication publicly that the Irish are major players.
It's hard to fit any of these players in a particular position box, but I would put most of them in at more of a wing or small forward position to replace Pat Connaughton. I've classified them all here in a general "Forwards" category.
Matt Ryan remains the best bet to commit to the Irish in the coming year at this point in time. A season-ending injury stalled a recruitment that had been exploding, and Duke looked to be passing Notre Dame as the favorite to land Ryan. The Blue Devils have loaded up since then, however, including landing Irish target Luke Kennard at a similar position, and a recent in-home visit with Mike Brey and official visit on the books for September 6th looks to have regained momentum for the Irish. Ryan explicitly said that Notre Dame is his leader following the in-home.
Rex Pflueger continues to be in play for the Irish, who is considered a lean to USC where his brother plays. He spoke favorably of Notre Dame last fall, but there have not been many updates to his recruitment throughout this school year. Irish assistant Martin Ingelsby has been out to California to see Pflueger and reportedly maintains regular contact, so this recruitment could get interesting if Notre Dame can manage to schedule a visit.
DJ Hogg is another big time prospect who has generally been patient and quiet with his recruitment. The Texas forward is expected to remain in Big XII territory for college, but he has been tough to read so far and had good things to say about the Irish last summer.
Elijah Burns is a recent offer and is probably more in the power forward mold than the rest of this list. He was reclassified to the 2015 class and, despite mostly only having mid-major offers, is garnering a lot of attention from the likes of Georgetown, Providence, and Syracuse, in addition to Notre Dame, but no reports on where the Irish may stand at this point.
Stephen Zimmerman attends Bishop Gorman out in Las Vegas and may be a program fit from that standpoint, but he has seldom shown much interest in the Irish, and despite some recent efforts by Irish assistants, Zimmerman excluded Notre Dame from his top eight yesterday. No word on whether Irish football commit Nicco Fertitta could have any influence here to get them back in the picture, but it's doubtful. Local program and sudden recruiting giant UNLV is thought to be the favorite by many.
It is safe to say that more offers are coming from the Irish staff, and here are some names that Notre Dame has been monitoring and could move on very soon:
|Others to watch|
|.969||PF Esa Ahmad||OH||6-7/210||Cold|
|.900||CG Levan Alston||PA||6-4/165||Cold|
|NR||PG Devin Cannady||IN||5-11/165||Mild|
||PF Henry Ellenson||WI
|NR||PF Nate Fowler||OH||6-9/240||Cold|
|.959||C Jessie Govan||NY||6-10/250||Cold|
|.972||CG Soso Jamabo||TX||6-3/210||Cold|
|.896||PF Luke Maye||NC||6-7/225||Cold|
|NR||C Derrik Smits||IN||6-11/215||Mild|
With the late addition of Matt Farrell to the 2014 class, it is hard to see Devin Cannady getting an offer even down the road. He holds a handful of mid-major offers and some interest from local major programs, including Indiana and Purdue. I liked him as another local Marian product who would be a lock if offered but think he is more likely headed to the MAC or MVC for his college career.
Soso Jamabo is an interesting case, as he is an elite football prospect (the ratings above are for football) and legitimate hoops prospect as well. The football staff is working hard to get a visit this summer, and though he would likely never be a major impact guy on the court, he might be able to work his way onto the hoops roster if allowed down the road.
Mike Brey has recently increased his interest in Philadelphia guard Levan Alston, who compares favorably to Jerian Grant on the court. The staff reportedly has indicated that Alston checks all the 'program fit' boxes. If they move on Alston soon, Notre Dame would be Alston's best major offer yet, and things could escalate from there if he is at all interested in getting out of Philadelphia, where most of his offers are at this point.
Andrew Fleming still looks like an SEC lean between Florida and Vanderbilt but has gained some other interest from major schools like Ohio State, UNLV, and Memphis. Notre Dame may rather wait on Coleman than increase their guard offers anytime soon, but they may miss out on Fleming entirely by doing so.
It seems likely that Notre Dame would be interested in using its third available scholarship for the class on a big man, and they have certainly been heavily recruiting at least a handful despite the lack of offers.
Jessie Govan continues to get a lot of attention from the staff, who remains 'wide open' despite some escalating movement with UConn and Georgetown. If the Irish want a chance on the New York big man, they will have to move early this summer to have much of a shot at a visit. Brey was watching Govan at the recent EYBL event in Sacramento.
The Irish may have already missed the boat a little on Wisconsin power forward Henry Ellenson, who most consider a Wisconsin lean. Still, they are monitoring and could offer if they feel it might get them in contention.
Esa Ahmad has an interesting set of offers given his lofty ranking and is reportedly leaning West Virginia's way. Irish assistants have visited his Cleveland high school multiple times, but there really is no indication where Notre Dame would be on his list if they made an offer.
Nate Fowler translates well to Notre Dame as a student at Moeller High School in Cincinnati. He has plenty of B1G interest, including Michigan, Ohio State, and Wisconsin, but is short on offers. It is easy to see the Irish being able to wedge themselves in contention with his current Butler and Dayton offers if they decide to move on Fowler.
Derrik Smits, son of former Indiana Pacer Rik Smits, has made multiple visits upstate to South Bend. From what I have gathered, area scouts seem a little mixed on his potential, which may just reflect a bit of an inconsistent junior season for Smits. But you can't teach height and good footwork, and Clemson, Butler, and Xavier have offered with other major programs in the Midwest continuing to monitor him.
Not much on Luke Maye at this point other than the staff has kept an eye on him. Maye has mostly Carolina regional mid-major interest at this point with some ACC programs circling.
A lot happens in recruiting over the course of the summer, and the next set of evaluation periods occurs in July, which should provide a lot more clarity and focus to Notre Dame's recruiting efforts. Absent a commitment in the meantime, I will be back around then with another big board to track the movement. Just for fun, I'll take a stab at a prediction for the 2015 class.
My early prediction for the 2015 class sure to go wrong: Levan Alston, Matt Ryan, Derrik Smits