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Notre Dame Men’s Basketball: Sophomore Forward Elijah Taylor Enters Transfer Portal

The promising sophomore never really got going due to injuries and academic issues — and now his departure will make Nate Laszewski’s and Grant Basile’s decisions even bigger for the 2022-2023 Irish squad

NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

There had been a tweet floating around with a short list of the major D-1 men’s basketball programs who hadn’t had a scholarship player enter the Transfer Portal this year, and for a while it was impressive and nice to see that the Notre Dame Fighting Irish were on said list, not losing anyone on scholarship to another school.

That no longer applies, as sophomore forward Elijah Taylor has officially entered the transfer portal.

Taylor was an intriguing player whose career never really got off the ground in South Bend. He came to Notre Dame as a 3-star power forward noted as being a tough, aggressive guy who would be able to mix it up in the paint and add some decent athleticism to go along with that. He chose the Irish in the fall of 2019 over offers from Florida, Seton Hall, Dayton, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, VCU, Penn State, and George Washington, joining Matt Zona and Tony Sanders Jr. in the program’s 2020 recruiting class.

After an injury kept him from playing his entire freshman season in 2020-2021, Taylor looked like he might be poised to eventually become part of the rotation in 2021-2022, playing sparingly in 3 early-season games and averaging 2.7 points and 0.7 rebounds in 3.7 minutes per game on a team that really could have used a third big man to spell Paul Atkinson Jr. and Nate Laszewski when they needed a break or got in foul trouble.

However, academic issues ended his ability to not only play, but also to practice with the team this past season. Nevertheless, at the time, Taylor pledged to be back and get things worked out so he could continue his Irish career.

Now, it appears the Philadelphia native is going to look elsewhere for a fresh start, entering his name into the Transfer Portal just a couple days prior to the deadline for players to be able to transfer and play immediately in the fall.

We only got to see limited action from him, but he could end up being a really nice contributor for his next school. He’s got decent size, moves well, is tough and strong down low (and not afraid of contact), and flashed some scoring ability as well in his brief Irish appearances (5/5 shooting, including a 2-for-2, 4-point performance in 6 minutes against Illinois).

NCAA Basketball: Western Michigan at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

As for the Irish, the pending decisions of transfer forward Grant Basile and incumbent forward Nate Laszewski are even more important now, as Taylor could very much have been a member of the rotation next season if his academic issues were squared away. The Irish could certainly have used his rebounding and interior defense with the loss of Atkinson.

We’ll see how it all shakes out, but don’t be surprised if the Irish maybe look at taking another big man in the portal even if Basile commits or Laszewski decides to return — otherwise, true freshmen Ven-Allen Lubin and Dom Campbell may be asked to play fairly significant minutes immediately, especially if Zona isn’t ready to contribute yet.