Throughout Notre Dame’s recent run of ACC success and deep runs in the NCAA Tournament, the Fighting Irish have relied on a versatile rotation.
During both of Notre Dame’s recent Elite Eight seasons of 2014-15 and 2015-16, the Fighting Irish had five different players averaging double figures in scoring. Both teams were led at the point guard position by future NBA point guards – Jerian Grant and Demetrius Jackson – and built around potent supporting casts.
Grant had Jackson, Steve Vasturia and Pat Connaughton to work the ball around to along the perimeter, as well as Zach Auguste in the paint. After Grant left, Jackson stuck around South Bend in 2015-16 as V.J. Beachem and Bonzie Colson emerged as two of the ACC’s top players. Last season, the Irish had four players average at least 13 points per game (Colson, Beachem, Matt Farrell, and Steve Vasturia).
The Great Harvey Hype
Colson and D.J. Harvey gives Notre Dame an intriguing outside-inside combination heading into the 2017-18 season. Harvey was hand-picked by Mike Brey as his No. 1 recruit in the 2017 signing class. He was the first player Notre Dame offered, and for a while was the only player that had a firm offer from the Irish. The 6-6 shooting guard has a chance to be a strong contender for ACC Rookie of the Year honors as he looks to replace the production lost by Beachem and Steve Vasturia’s departures.
Even after Colson, one of the ACC’s top scoring threats, graduates out following the 2017-18 season, the Irish should be fine. Brey and his staff have put together a four-man class (Nate Laszewski, Robby Carmody, Dane Goodwin, and Prentiss Hubb) of consensus top 100 prospects. Laszewski’s early fall pledge to the Irish propelled the class into the top five nationally in the 247Sports Composite team rankings.
Hubb, Notre Dame’s point guard of the future, comes from the same Gonzaga High program in Washington, D.C. that produced former UNC guard Nate Britt. Hubb will be well-prepared for the battles to the come in the ACC playing out of the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference. He and Temple Gibbs will challenge to replace Matt Farrell as Notre Dame’s floor general in 2018-19.
Carmody and Goodwin are a pair of tough Midwestern shooting guards out of Pennsylvania and Ohio, respectively. At 6-4 and 6-5, the pair gives Notre Dame good length along the perimeter, as well as strong shooting potential.
Heir to the big man throne
Despite his 6-10 height, Laszewski is not a prototypical power forward. He moves well away from the ball and has range beyond the 3-point line. In Notre Dame’s system, which thrives on tempo, outside shooting, and pressure, Laszewski will extend opposing defenses and open up the Irish offense.
If Harvey sticks around for his sophomore year at Notre Dame, he and Laszewski could form one of the more dangerous tandems in the ACC. Neither can be pigeonholed into a specific role or position. Both can force defenders to play them all over the court, spreading opposing units out. Hubb and Gibbs, like Grant, Jackson, and Farrell before them, can facilitate the Irish offense at point guard without having to carry the full offensive load.
With this kind of talent entering his program, Mike Brey should rest easy at night. Unlike many of his ACC peers, who are reloading and rebuilding every year on the recruiting trail, Notre Dame is building a long-term foundation, and getting the right players to fit its scheme.