Mike Brey won't let a good football weekend go to waste. He and his staff have done a nice job assembling a foursome of visitors for this weekend's festivities, culminating in the football team's tilt against Michigan on Saturday night, that may ultimately be his 2015 recruiting class come signing day.
The class kicked off with two commitments in July, as both Matt Ryan and Elijah Burns pledged to the Irish in consecutive weeks. Now, the staff hopes to wrap things up in September, and perhaps even this weekend, as the early signing period looms in just a couple of months.
Brey has up to two scholarships left to offer for this class, as Tom Noie recently reported that Brey and junior forward Eric Katenda decided together that this season would be Katenda's last with the Irish in light of his injury woes despite having another year of eligibility remaining after this season.
Brey, however, was non-committal about using both of those scholarships or, perhaps, saving one of them for next year's class.
Brey on having two scholarships to give - "Do we give both of them? Do we just give one? Who knows?"
— Tom Noie (@tnoieNDI) August 21, 2014
That decision may ultimately ride on this weekend's visits, as the Irish welcome two four-star perimeter prospects, including one that ranks as one of the top shooting guards in the nation.
- Elijah Burns (commit)
- Jalen Coleman
- Rex Pflueger
- Matt Ryan (commit)
These four players are the most likely bets to be Irish come signing day, obviously with the two commits but also with Coleman and Pflueger, each of whom have Notre Dame in their top two according to most reports. Other than these four, only two other players remain as semi-realistic, with center Samir Sehic scheduled to visit later this month and guard Levan Alston in the process of rescheduling his from this weekend to a later date.
Elijah Burns will likely be the lone big man in the class, pending the ultimate decision of Sehic, which may be alright for a staff that clearly initially wanted two. After the Italy trip, Brey stated his intention to revert back to more of a "4-around-1" lineup, which was employed by some of his best offenses for Notre Dame, including those featuring Ty Nash, of whom Burns has been favorably compared.
Burns' fellow commit, Matt Ryan, is the type of outside shooter with size that Brey desperately needed to make his offense work at full capacity again. The 6'7" forward will have the opportunity to play as a 3 or 4 in Brey's flexible offense, and he is a safe bet to contribute immediately in 2015.
Here's a more thorough breakdown of the two remaining targets visiting for the weekend:
Jalen Coleman - G
Wt: 160 lbs.
ESPN: 4 stars, 89 rating, 34th ranked overall, 10th ranked SG
Rivals: 4 stars, 37th ranked overall, 16th ranked G
247: 5 stars, 98 rating, 25th ranked overall, 4th ranked PG
247 composite: 4 stars, .987 rating, 31st ranked overall, 6th ranked PG
Notre Dame still desperately needs a replacement for Jerian Grant. Enter Jalen Coleman. Coleman is originally from Indianapolis but transferred before last season to nearby La Lumiere in Portage. He is a combo guard who has been primarily playing point guard for his AAU team all summer, making him the type of crossover prospect that would fill in perfectly for Grant.
For most of the summer, Notre Dame has widely been considered the favorite to land Coleman, and there is a potential for the Irish to close the deal this weekend. The top competition to Notre Dame is likely UNLV, but distance from home and a very strong relationship with assistant Anthony Solomon dating back a few years are working in the Irish favor. He has a visit schedule to UNLV next weekend, but some think that Coleman may choose to end his recruitment and commit to Notre Dame this weekend.
Rex Pflueger - SG
Santa Ana, CA
Wt: 185 lbs.
ESPN: 4 stars, 81 rating, 40th ranked SG
Rivals: 4 stars, 97th ranked overall, 48th ranked G
247: 3 stars, 89 rating, 124th ranked overall, 35th ranked SG
247 composite: 4 stars, .926 rating, 109th ranked overall, 35th ranked SG
Rex Pflueger is a very athletic perimeter player that seems to prefer getting to the rim on offense rather than relying on an outside game. He is not a proficient scorer at this point in his career, often deferring to teammates, but earns rave reviews for his relentless defense where he uses his athleticism and length to his advantage. Notre Dame could certainly use someone like Pflueger at the 2 or 3 position to pair with shooters like Steve Vasturia or Matt Ryan (or Jalen Coleman) as more of a defensive specialist and perimeter player who likes to get himself to the paint, mix it up down low and battle for rebounds. Or maybe just casually dunk on 5 star opponents like Carlton Bragg here:
One local California reporter has this as a San Diego State-Notre Dame battle with visits scheduled to his other three finalists (California, Texas A&M, and Washington State) but on the outside looking in. SBT beat reporter Tom Noie claims some sources that indicate Pflueger is more likely to commit this weekend than Coleman, especially having survived the SDSU visit from last weekend. We might be on commit watch, but conventional wisdom is still with SDSU, so I will keep Pflueger at warm and anticipate him to draw things out a little longer.