The big July recruiting month continues for Mike Brey and his Fighting Irish program, as Notre Dame added a second commitment to their 2015 recruiting class with New Jersey power forward Elijah Burns. Burns committed to the Irish coaching staff at this past weekend's Elite Youth Invitational tournament in North Augusta, South Carolina, where Brey and assistants Anthony Solomon and Martin Ingelsby were scouting Burns along with a handful of other top targets.
Notre Dame offered Burns this past spring as he was picking up more interest from high major programs. When they extended the offer, most reports indicated throughout the past few months that the Irish were the team to beat for Burns, especially if Georgetown was not going to pull the trigger. Even so, Burns has plenty of ties to Notre Dame, including friend and fellow commit Matt Ryan, and has developed a great relationship with Mike Brey, who has been very aggressive and active recruiting a few top targets this year.
Burns is listed at 6'8" and 215 pounds and attends Blair Academy in New Jersey, which has produced plenty of Division 1 players in recent years, including Luol Deng and Charlie Villanueva. Burns' recruitment has been mostly regional thus far in the process. His offers included Boston College, Seton Hall, Temple, and VCU and he was still being scouted by coaches from Georgetown, Marquette, and Virginia. He has never been to campus before but will officially visit along with Matt Ryan (and hopefully other targets) for the September 6th football weekend.
Recruiting Service Rankings:
ESPN - 4 star, NR nationally, #21 PF, 81 rating
Rivals - 3 star, NR nationally
247 - 3 star, #174 nationally, #41 PF, 88 rating
247 composite - 3 star, #198 nationally, #44 PF, .862 rating
Elijah Burns will add some immediate depth to a fairly unproven frontcourt, as he will enter Notre Dame with Zach Auguste entering his final year and Martin Geben and Austin Torres as likely the only other true frontcourt players with others like Austin Burgett and Bonzie Colson as more tweeners out on the wing.
Adding some athleticism to the front line was certainly a must for Brey, and he has done so with Burns, who seems to have a pretty multi-dimensional game for a likely power forward at the next level and can play above-the-rim as well. There are plenty of Ty Nash comparisons being made, but I think Burns is more athletic than Nash, especially as just a high school junior.
That all said, though a redshirt year would surprise me a little given the lack of proven depth, I think Burns likely will not play substantial minutes early on in his career as he finishes growing and adds some strength to his frame to hold up throughout the ACC season. He could also benefit by adding a more consistent mid-range shooting touch, something often lacking on this Irish roster.
Burns has some pretty good potential as a multi-year starter in the ACC with the athletic upside to match up with some of the best frontcourt players in the country. His frame should allow him to add some more weight, and when he does, it is hard not to see him as, at least, a quality rebounder and interior defender, not unlike Ty Nash.
As it often the case at that level, Burns appears in some videos to do a lot of ball-handling and running the fastbreak and set offenses for his high school team, but I am not sure how well those skills translate to the next level. At the very least, that experience should help him be a very effective passer, but I see his role as mostly a post player rather than a stretch or someone who will create for himself very often. I think he is more of an offensive threat down low than Ty Nash, but projecting Burns to make a similar impact and do the little things in the paint that have been key for Irish teams in the past is a good place to start.
Welcome to Notre Dame, Elijah!