The culture for basketball has been changed in South Bend
A loss in the Elite Eight and the loss of Demetrius Jackson is an acceptable reason to be down on Notre Dame basketball, but I’m here to tell you it will get better. The culture of Notre Dame basketball has been changed in and the personnel that is in place gives you all the reason to believe that.
Of course it was a bittersweet moment to see Jackson declare for the draft but I think it’s safe to say that he did indeed become a hometown hero. He was the biggest recruit to come through South Bend according to 247Sports with a .9864 composite rating. But even those who watched him play at nearby Marian High School can tell you how much he grew as a player and as a person while at Notre Dame. That’s why Irish fans should trust in the future.
Jackson was ND’s biggest recruit ever, and yet he was just a four star. To put that into perspective, Kentucky’s 2016 recruiting class consists of five players who all are ranked as five star recruits. Notre Dame was the only team this year to make back-to-back appearances in the Elite Eight. What I am saying here is that Notre Dame develops their talent.
Jackson was a four star recruit, Pat Connaughton was a four star recruit, and Jerian Grant was a three star recruit, the latter being NBA rookies and the former is on his way. Mike Brey has developed a system that you can now trust. Turning these guys into NBA ready players when, in Grants case, were only offered by 4 schools.
So when I say “watch Matt Farrell be comfortable stepping into Jackson’s position”, or “watch incoming freshmen Temple Gibbs work his way into the offense.” I truly mean it.
In fact its kind of scary the potential that this team could do just looking at the active roster. I once said that Steve Vasturia and V.J. Beachem are two guys that could fill the shoes of Grant and Connaughton. Seeing what they could do if they were the top go-to guys could put them on the radar alone.
Rex Pfluger was often played for his defense. In a program that is known for developing players, what does next season look like with one full season and an extra summer under his belt? A lot more playing time I would expect.
Notre Dame is not in a bad position here. The players you needed to step up this past season did. Couple that with the three incoming freshmen (Gibbs, Nikola Djogo, and John Mooney) there is no reason not to believe that Notre Dame will not be one of the more difficult tests in ACC next year.
Not to mention that with Jackson leaving it now opens up another scholarship. Which means Thon Maker or Jarrett Allen are still in play. Either one would easily be the new biggest recruit to come to Notre Dame. Allen has Notre Dame in his top six choices. Maker has the Irish in his top three with an official visit set for April 25, which as of now is his last visit.