It's no secret that, with the TJ Gibbs already in the fold, Billy Donovan's jump to the NBA from the Gators, Mike Brey pounced on Mooney to fill one of those spots.head coach Mike Brey is hot after some front court prospects to fill out his 2016 class. Once power forward John Mooney ended his two year commitment to Florida following
Donovan actually recommended Brey's system to the family, and a visit to South Bend soon materialized. After his visit over this past weekend, complete with a scrimmage (where Mooney was reportedly very impressive) against current and former Irish players including Pat Connaughton and Jack Cooley, Mooney was convinced that Notre Dame was the place for him. The Irish Catholic connection for the Mooney family really helped seal the deal as well, according to John and his father.
The 6'10" power forward currently attends school and plays at Lake Brantley High School in Altamonte Springs, Florida. He actually did not participate in AAU ball this past summer, as his former NIKE Team Florida did not play this season. Mooney has, however, hit a growth spurt in recent years since his initial recruitment ended and has been working on making significant strength gains over his free summer.
Mooney chose Notre Dame over, of course, Florida, as well as others that tried to get in on his recruitment following his decommitment from Florida. Mooney had heard from programs in every major conference and specifically listed Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Texas, Georgetown, Stanford, and Boston College as schools that he was considering. Notre Dame struck first, however, and landed Mooney before others were able to gain much traction in their pursuits.
Recruiting Service Rankings:
ESPN: 3 star, 79 rating, NR overall, 33rd ranked PF
Rivals: 3 star, NR overall
Scout: 3 star, NR overall
247: 4 star, 90 rating,106th ranked overall, 24th ranked PF
247 composite: 3 star, .907 rating, 134th ranked overall, 34th ranked PF
Junior season highlights:
Mooney's short-term impact depends largely on the development of other players currently on the roster as well as any potential additions to the 2016 class. Bonzie Colson will be firmly entrenched as a starter, but players like Austin Torres, Elijah Burns, and Martinas Geben will all be upperclassmen by the time Mooney joins them in South Bend and may stand in the way of him attaining too many minutes early on. Further, Mike Brey and staff are going all in on some major front court targets to join the fold as well.
Still, Mooney is a very good shooter, and Brey obviously puts a high premium on those, especially early in their careers. It would not surprise me to see Mooney carve out a small niche in the lineup early, especially without any obvious front court players on the roster that could extend their shooting out to the three-point line like Mooney will likely be able to do. It's unlikely that Brey will be starving for great shooters with V.J. Beachem, Matt Ryan, and Steve Vasturia hanging around, but having a true 5 who can shoot might be a useful weapon for Brey to employ.
It's hard to get a great read on Mooney's potential, having only played recently against high school competition rather but not AAU. That makes Mooney a bit of a risk with his potential, but the staff obviously felt good enough about his fit to make the offer.
Those that have asked people inside the program have reported the staff to liken Mooney to Rob Kurz. In his highlights, he does appear to have a willingness to do some of the dirty work around the boards, which would be key to achieving that potential. His frame reminds me more of Carleton Scott at this point but without quite that level of athleticism.
I'm not sure about comparing anyone to Rob Kurz anymore. The guy was just such a smart player and did so many unquantifiable things that comparing any high school junior to him seems like an unfair expectation. Since he was committed to Billy Donovan, I'll throw out former Gator Erik Murphy as the ceiling for Mooney given the similarities between their frames and their games. That would obviously be a great career, so even coming a little short of that would still make Mooney a very valuable player for the Irish in the next few years.
Welcome to Notre Dame, John!