Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Notre Dame Recruiting Update

VERBAL COMMITMENT ALERT: Tory Jackson (PG), Saginaw, MI.

Projected 2006-2007 Roster
Seniors: Colin Falls (WG), Russell Carter (SG)
Juniors: Omari Israel (F), Robert Kurz (F)
Sophomores: Randy Ayers (F/G), Kyle McAlarney (G), Zack Hillesland (F), Luke Zeller (BF/C)
Freshmen: Luke Harangody (BF), Tory Jackson (PG)

Link to previous Notre Dame recruiting report: July 21 Report.

Well, an hour ago, I was linking a story in today's notes section from the Detroit News that Tory Jackson could pull the trigger and decide on a college very soon and it looks good for Notre Dame, well, here is a story from the South Bend Tribune on his commitment to the Fighting Irish and Coach Mike Brey: Jackson Chooses Irish.

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The recruiting trail has been somewhat quiet in the class of 2006 for Irish head coach Mike Brey and his staff. They have lost out on a few of their early targets, like Dennis Horner and Matt Bouldin recently, but with the earlier commitment of Luke Harangody, who will provide a toughness inside and a physical presence that should be able to step right in for Torrin Francis and Rick Cornett and compliment Luke Zeller, they have now added a very nice compliment to Kyle McAlarney in the backcourt.

Jackson, a Saginaw, MI native, is an ultra-quick guard that can, like most ND perimeter players, bury the long range shot. What Jackson also offers is a pesky defensive presence that enjoys getting after the oppossing point guard and playing some intense defense. Jackson has the athletic ability to break down his man and get to the rim. He does need to transition himself from more of a score-first mentality to the more traditional running the offense type mentality of a point guard, and his smallish stature might make this very important in the Big East. He does have the raw athletic ability and scoring skills to make an immediate impact at the Big East level and should be a nice compliment to McAlarney and his penetration ability should also aide in finding room for shooters like Colin Falls, Randy Ayers, etc on the perimeter for the Irish.

So, where do the Irish go from here? I still feel Tom Herzog is a major target of Mike Brey and would be a nice post compliment to Harangody as Herzog is very skinny and not as physical as big Luke, but he has a knack for blocking shots and uses a good touch to score some points. It also happens to be that Herzog and Jackson were AAU teammates with the Michigan Hurricanes. They will also be showing some attention to the new Lithunianian big man at Statesville Christian by the name of Devius Busma. I will not even try to pretend I know anything about him. They also seem to still be recruiting some additional wing talent and Jodie Meeks, a 6'4 athletic wing guard remains on their radar, as does Texan Kelvin Lewis. Meeks might be tough to get out of SEC country and Lewis has a variety of interest and I am not sure how interested the Irish are.

The Irish do have three scholarships open at this time. I do think Tom Herzog is the one that will get most of their attention at this time. There does not seem to be a large number of names out there at this time the Irish are targeting for 2006, another wing could always come in handy as well. They have been busy on the 2007 trail already as well. Stay tuned and we will keep you updated on the Irish happenings as they occur.

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Notre Dame Program Profile


2005-2006 Team Roster from Official Team Site: ROSTER.

The Notre Dame Coaching Staff: ND STAFF.

Home Court: Joyce Center: JOYCE CENTER INFO.

OVERVIEW: Not too many fans of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish anticipated the Chris Thomas era to end with a home loss to Holy Cross in the NIT. Adding to the fact that it was a second straight NIT appearance for the Fighting Irish under Mike Brey has made things even tougher to swallow for those fans of the program. When you also consider, as they prepare for the 2005-2006 season, they are losing three of their top six players from those back to back NIT teams, including their star player, and one might not be expecting a banner season out of South Bend this winter.

However, I think Mike Brey has plenty of reasons to be optimistic as he enters his 6th season as the head coach at Notre Dame. In Brey’s first three seasons, after coming from the University of Delaware, Brey and the Irish competed in the NCAA tournament each year and I fully expect Brey to lead the Irish back to the Big Dance in 2006. Some factors that have worked against the Irish the last couple seasons seem to be working for them this time around and I expect them to take full advantage within the Big East conference. The Irish return some talent that is ready to step into the spotlight and take their turn and an infusion of talent from a very solid recruiting class should get the Irish fans smiling once again in March.

LIGHTER PATH: The past two seasons, the Irish have been saddled with a tough conference schedule draw. Notre Dame is always a very skilled team that likes to play the game at a quicker pace and utilize their skill on the perimeter to cash in beyond the arc. Teams that they have a tough time matching up against the last couple seasons have been the long and athletic teams of Connecticut and Syracuse as well as the physical and monotonous style of Pittsburgh. Notre Dame has found themselves on the outside looking in of the NCAA tournament, mostly due to a pedestrian 17-15 conference record and early conference tournament exits. To go one step deeper, the Irish have posted a 3-9 record the last two seasons against Pitt, UConn and SU and have beat up on the rest of the conference at a .700 clip (14-6). Being a high profile institution and a great television draw, the Irish have been saddled with a tough conference slate to take advantage of their television appeal for the conference. This year, the addition of Louisville and the added marketability of high expectations at Villanova, has eased the Irish out of the conference spotlight into a role that should set them up for success.

RETURNEES: The Irish return three players that have figured into their past success very prominently: Chris Quinn, Torin Francis and Colin Falls. Falls and Quinn both averaged nearly 13 PPG last season and Francis slumped a bit returning from back surgery to average 9 PPG and nearly 8 rebounds. This should be a season in which Quinn takes a major step forward in the league, as a senior, it is his turn to step out of the Chris Thomas shadow. His late season injuries definitely hurt them as they faltered down the stretch and missed the NCAA tournament. Francis also returns for his senior season after entertaining the NBA draft process. Francis should be more of a focal point in the offense and rugged Ricky Cornett should team with him upfront to give him a little more help around the hoop and let Francis be more effective. Falls is one of the top 3-pt marksmen in the college game and is a tremendous stand still shooter that excels at finding an open spot to let it fly. Russell Carter also returns and really could add some needed athleticism on the perimeter between Quinn and Falls that should help defensively. Rob Kurz got some time late in the year and could figure in the front court mix and Omari Israel adds some additional athleticism to the wing.

INCOMING: The Irish add 4 very solid recruits to their roster this coming season. Luke Zeller is a skilled BF that can add some skill to the mix with Francis and Cornett up front and his ability to step out and pass, handle and shoot could create some room inside. He does need to add weight and get a little tougher, a common knock on Irish players, but the Indiana native will have high expectations from the Irish faithful. Kyle McAlarney is a highly touted shooter and scorer from Staten Island, NY that should fit the Irish perimeter mold that has been common with players like matt Carroll, Chris Quinn and Colin Falls very well as he is a player that can really shoot it and has a high basketball IQ. Speaking of high basketball intellect, Ryan Ayers, son of NBA coach Randy Ayers, also joins the Irish. The 6’7 swingman from Germantown Academy is a player with solid skills, athletic ability and a nice shooting stroke that will fit well at ND and provide a steady performer on the wing for seasons to come. Zach Hillesland is a 6’8 forward from Ohio that can add inside depth and has the skills to step out and shoot the ball as well.

LOSSES: Notre Dame bid farewell to seniors Chris Thomas and Jordan Cornette last season and Dennis Latimore decided to pursue professional opportunities after playing one season for the Irish. Thomas struggled in his senior season after having knee surgery in the off-seasons, but his career never matched the promise that was expected early on. The Irish were never able to take it to another level in his 4 seasons, despite a very good career for Thomas. His ability to knock down key shots will be missed, but others are also ready to take their shot for Notre Dame this year.

SCHEDULE: Finally, a break for the Irish! Instead of mirror schools like Syracuse, Connecticut and Pittsburgh as in the past, the Irish get DePaul, Marquette and Providence and all three should be looking up at the Irish in the standings. Each is in their own version of rebuilding after key losses from last year’s teams. They miss out on playing St John’s and Cincinnati. They will host Villanova and Syracuse and do face a tough road slate with dates at Louisville, Connecticut and West Virginia . This is a schedule the Irish should be able to take full advantage of in the conference.

OUTLOOK: To me, the outlook for the Irish is very positive this year. They have an above average core of returnees and some very solid new faces that should look very good in the Irish uniform. The Joyce Center will be a tough road trip for any Big East foe and Mike Brey is a very solid coach. The Irish will still need to get a little tougher on the defensive end, especially on the perimeter, but players like Carter and Cornett could add a little more of that dimension. Francis should be fully recovered from his back surgery and Chris Quinn is a player I expect to really raise his game in his senior year. Having two very experienced seniors as the focal points of the team will go a long way for the Irish this season. As long as they win the games they should, they should have a very successful Big East conference record and be a solid NCAA tournament team. Anything less would certainly be a disappointment.

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Notre Dame Recruiting Report


Projected 2006-2007 Roster
Seniors: Colin Falls (WG), Russell Carter (SG)
Juniors: Omari Israel (F), Robert Kurz (F)
Sophomores: Randy Ayers (F/G), Kyle McAlarney (G), Zack Hillesland (F), Luke Zeller (BF/C)
Freshmen: Luke Harangody (BF)

Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey received the good news yesterday from Luke Harangody, a 6'8 250 lb BF, that he has chosen the Figting Irish over Purdue, his other in-state finalist. Harangody was the Northwest Indiana Times player of the year last season and they have the story on his commitment in today's paper: Harangody Commits.

Harangody is the perfect fit for the Notre Dame roster and is just what the doctor ordered for Brey's team in the Big East. Harangody is ready today for the physical demands of the conference and he loves to do the work around the basket in scoring, rebounding and defending, which is something unique to the ND 2006-2007 roster as it stands right now. He fits in perfect with the 4 recruits from 2005 and brings an element that will definitely be lacking when Rick Cornett graduates.

From our previous recruiting report on July 6, we really liked the possibility of Harangody to Notre Dame and now the Irish will look to get commits for up to 4 open scholarships. It probably is a little unlikely they hand them all out, but we do expect at least another four person class.

I still feel Tom Herzog is a major target of Mike Brey and would be a nice post compliment to Harangody as Herzog is very skinny and not as physical as big Luke, but he has a knack for blocking shots and uses a good touch to score some points. Another big man is Jason Bennett, a 7'2 C that has Cincinnati and Miami also interested in the big man and Notre Dame is in the picture, at least a little bit. Canadian Devin Brennan-McBride also has gotten looks fromt he Irish staff and like Michigan, Purdue, Pepperdine and St Bonaventure as well.

As always, the Irish are also looking for additional shooting and the main target continues to be Matt Bouldin from Colorado. Bouldin also is looking at BC, Gonzaga, Cal and NC St has entered the picture. Another wing guard that has entered the Irish picture this summer has been Joe Hardin from California and he is looking at Stanford and Iowa as well as some other Califirnia schools in addition to Notre Dame. Adrion Graves from Ohio is also on the recruiting radar with ND, but he seems to favor in-state Xavier and Dayton. A wing forward from New Jersey, Dennis Horner also remains on the list, but he seems to be leaning to WVU, but insists options are still open and Robbie Hummel, an Indiana prospect whose had quite a growth spurt, has really come out of nowhere to get many looks and Notre Dame is interested. Kelvin Lewis from Texas is another combo guard that has the Irish interest. Lewis has a little more athletic ability to create his own offense and could be a nice compliment to the other players being targeted.

It looks like the Irish will now focus on securing another big man to compliment Harangody and add a typical shooter from the wing, as seems their strategy every year. I would expect them to give out one other scholarship to a player that will best fit their needs as well, a PG to help out with McAlarney, who at this point will be their only possible PG on the 2006-2007 roster, is a need I feel they have. A little more athletic ability to create offese also might be a good addition on the wings.

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