Notre Dame Basketball: 2015 NBA Draft a Showcase for Mike Brey and the Program


Irish leveling the field in basketball

As a head coach, there are a few things that act as your biggest recruitment tools. Playing on a big stage in a nationally televised game, and having players from your program be drafted into the NBA. Notre Dame basketball coach Mike Brey got both of those this season. The Fighting Irish just missed beating a Kentucky Wildcats team in the Elite Eight that had FOUR lottery picks this season. It was a game that many didn’t think the Irish could win. Big game on a national stage? Check.

Then in last night’s NBA Draft, Brey got to see two of his kids be drafted in the same year with Jerian Grant and Pat Connaughton, the first time Notre Dame had two players taken since the 1992 draft (LaPhonso Ellis, Elmer Bennett). This wasn’t a draft light on talent. Two Irish players were drafted because they were two of the best available. Players drafted? Check.

This isn’t the end of the Notre Dame run, but the beginning of something great.

With the dismantling of the Big East as we knew it, Notre Dame was going to need a landing spot. Somewhere that they would stay in the limelight of top competition for all their sports. Enter the ACC. In their inaugural season, they looked overmatched. The loss of Grant was a huge blow, and they looked to be stuck in tar as the ACC teams speed was evident in loss after loss.

So with a team that didn’t look a whole lot different than the 2014 team, the Irish weren’t picked to do much in the ACC in 2015. Sound familiar? Looking at you Big East. But Mike Brey loves to be the underdog. He believes his kids are capable of great things, and they proved it with a magical season.

Still one of the new kids, they marched into Greensboro where different shades of blue dominated the stands. The Irish sent each of those shades home a little more blue as they dispatched Duke and North Carolina to claim the ACC Tournament title. Notre Dame? The football school? And it wasn’t that the Irish caught the ACC in a down year (See Duke National Champion for proof).

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Brey has changed the culture of the men’s basketball program. It’s not just about winning 20 games like it used to be. It’s not just about making the tournament, or any tournament like it used to be. It’s about winning. It’s about developing these young men into more than just basketball players.

Look, Kentucky and John Calipari may have sent more kids to the NBA last night. But Mike Brey sent two men, and that speaks volumes about the program that he’s built in South Bend.

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