Our series of breakdowns for Notre Dame’s 2022 basketball commits rolls on with this week’s edition: four-star forward Ven-Allen Lubin. Next season, the Orlando Christian Prep product will be bringing athleticism and energy to... Georgia Tech’s frontcourt?
Not sure what that’s about, but at least the “committed” section correctly lists Notre Dame. Also depending on what recruiting site you look at, you’ll find his measurements range between 6-foot-7 and 6-foot-8 and between 200 and 220 pounds.
Lubin is a consensus top-100 recruit among 247Sports (No. 100 nationally), ESPN (No. 69), On3 (No. 60) and Rivals (No. 45). But numbers are only surface level, and I have scoured YouTube to find any and all footage I could of VAL to break down his game. Apologies in advance for the low-quality camera work in some of these clips. Now let’s get to it.
The first thing that pops with Lubin is his athleticism. I mean, just look at this in-bounds play:
When’s the last time Notre Dame had a big man capable of doing that? I honestly don’t know, but I feel confident saying it goes back farther than the five years I’ve followed Notre Dame basketball.
Aside from raw physical ability, I was admittedly surprised at how well rounded Lubin’s game is for both a big man and for someone his size. My first impression was that he gets his shot blocked quite a bit, but for some reason I initially thought he was about 6-foot-10. The amount that he gets his shot blocked is probably par for the course for a 6-foot-7 power forward with an underdeveloped perimeter game. And even so, while he isn’t the bulkiest player, he is pretty good at sealing opponents and finishing through and around contact.
Additionally, Lubin can handle the ball decently well in the open court. His size and athleticism give him a good deal of positional flexibility to the point that I could see him playing either a small-ball 5 or on the wing in a taller lineup.
But what I am really impressed by in Lubin’s game is how advanced he is as a passer, especially how he keeps his head up when driving to the basket.
As for his finishing, I can’t say definitively what Lubin’s post repertoire consists of. He’s got good touch around the basket, but he’s not really a back-to-the-basket player. He does have decent shooting form for when he faces up, but even that’s not a major part of his offensive game.
All-in-all, Lubin is more of a spark plug offensive player than a go-to scorer. He’ll give you an injection with his energy but has some refining to do to become a real threat on that end. But surrounded by shooters like Notre Dame has all over its roster? He can be a nice athletic complement next season.
A lot of Lubin’s defensive production is predicated on his athleticism. He moves his feet well enough, but he can be a liability when defending a perimeter player who is agile and a competent shooter.
See how his hands drop against this defender. Fixing that is a matter of pure discipline, and it’ll need to be an emphasis this offseason, because Lubin can make the biggest impact for Notre Dame next season as a defender and rebounder.
He has the instincts and physical traits to become a really good shot blocker one day.
And as for rebounding, Lubin has the desire to go after the ball, especially when it comes to pounding the offensive glass.
But once again, what really impresses me is Lubin’s awareness as a passer, specifically on outlet passes. In the following clip, his teammate doesn’t finish the play, but see how Lubin keeps his eyes down the court and places the ball almost perfectly to avoid the defense and get it to his teammate as quickly as possible.
Those are little things that can go a long way to securing playing time as a freshman, especially when coupled with the physical factors that can’t be taught.
Player Comp: Bonzie Colson
Before you get too excited, let’s slow down and remember that this is a projection for a guy who has yet to play a minute of collegiate basketball. But head coach Mike Brey also brought up Colson when making a trip to see Lubin workout.
“Halfway through the workout, I went up to [Assistant] Coach [Antoni Wyche], I said, ‘this is [John] Mooney and Bonzie [Colson]. It would be that kind of development arc.’ ... He’s a big, face-up forward. Can run, shoots it a little bit, you know, physically, the whole package there.”
I see more of Colson than Mooney given that Lubin is a tad undersized like the former. I also think Lubin’s offensive game has a lot of polishing to do to approach Colson’s, and he may never reach the same level on that end. However, I believe Lubin has more upside as a defender and rebounder given his athletic advantages over Colson.
It’s probably going to take two or three years to really see him blossom, but with proper coaching, Lubin could turn into a really exciting and versatile big man à la Bonzie.
Bold prediction time: Ven-Allen Lubin will be the Blake Wesley of Notre Dame’s frontcourt next season.
When Wesley stepped onto campus last summer, he was automatically the most athletic player on Notre Dame’s roster. Wesley became virtually irreplaceable on a team that barely made the First Four of the NCAA Tournament. With J.J. Starling arriving in this class, the title of most athletic on the entire roster is up for debate. But with Elijah Taylor transferring out this offseason, among big men, there should be no discussion of who wins.
Lubin exhibits greater physical prowess than rising junior Matt Zona, fellow 2022 enrollee Dom Campbell, graduate student-to-be Nate Laszewski and either of potential transfers Michael Henn and Pete Nance. Plus, the interior production from each of those players is meandering at best (Nance and Laszewski both averaged 6.5 rebounds per game last season). That makes Lubin’s rapid development even more crucial if Notre Dame is going to hold their own in the paint next season.
With the prominent role Wesley played last season, it seems Brey has come to realize the importance of having young, athletic players to complement steady veterans. And, as much as Notre Dame plays small ball, Brey must realize that he needs a bare minimum of two (but ideally three) viable big men he can rotate. Lubin is a different type of player than every other projected big on next year’s roster, so I like his chances to be at least a rotational piece.
That said, I suspect that Lubin will get passed over for post-season conference accolades given J.J. Starling’s presence and the talent that Duke, North Carolina and Virginia are bringing it. But while awards are great, it’s all good as long as Lubin does stuff like this on the regular: