I tossed some questions to Notre Dame women’s basketball recruit Samantha Brunelle to talk about her senior year of high school, Notre Dame, and basketball.
On April 3rd, 2018, Notre Dame landed a verbal commitment from Samantha Brunelle — the number one recruit in the class of 2019 according to ESPN. That was two days after the Irish won the national championship, but her mind was made up before the wild weekend that included two buzzer beaters and a trophy.
Now the 6-foot-2 forward will finish her final year of high school at William Monroe in Stanardsville, Virginia. Brunelle took time out of her busy senior year schedule to answer a few questions for Slap the Sign, something she’ll be doing for us periodically going forward.
For now, we wanted to learn a little bit more about Samantha Brunelle: the player and the person.
Jordan: You’re senior year is just getting underway, correct? How is that going?
Samantha: Senior year is going great so far! I am about a month in and am excited for what this last year has in store for me. I’m taking good classes and one that is new to me is the intro to criminal justice class I’m taking, and it’s is really interesting to learn about all the laws and how trials are ran etc….
Jordan: So can you take us through how you got started with basketball?
Samantha: I got started with basketball at a very young age (about 3). My mom was a high school basketball coach and I grew up in the gym. I use to shoot on a little tykes hoop trying to be like the bigs girls (haha). I also explored plenty of other sports too, but basketball was the one.
Jordan: What was the recruiting process like for you? Is it a relief to have that over with now?
Samantha: The recruiting process was long for me, it started when I was in about 5th-6th grade. It was an experience I am blessed to have gone through, because I made some amazing relationships with different schools and in the end got my pick at many top schools around the country.
Jordan: You’ve said that you knew Notre Dame was the place for you even before the national championship. What was it that made you choose the Irish and what was the title run like for you?
Samantha: I chose Notre Dame for many reasons. I was also told that I’d know what school was right for me when it was, and from the time I took my unofficial visit in the fall of 2017 to when I committed in April, lots of things happened in between that time to point all fingers to Notre Dame.
When I sat down and asked myself what I really wanted out if my college experience and what things were most important to me, there was not one bad thing I could pick out from choosing Notre Dame.
Recruits go to many schools and there is always something good at everyone of them you like, and the same was true for me. However, when I visited Notre Dame, it was like a feeling I had not had anywhere else. The beautiful campus, the sense of family everywhere I walked, the culture established there.
I was amazed by it.
Another thing coach said to me that really turned my wheels was that Notre Dame isn’t about the next 4 years — it’s about the next 40. Some of the people I’ve been able to meet the few times I’ve been there I probably never would have met if I hadn’t chose Notre Dame. It’s a place full of connections unlike any other school. Notre Dame will be able to set me up for far more years than just the four I’ll be there for and I cannot wait to start my journey there next year!
Watching them play this past season was unbelievable. Losing multiple players who are key to the team and still able to be the team they were is remarkable. That goes to show how great of a coach Coach McGraw is, as well as to how well the girls have bought into the things coach believes in and wants for them.
When I watched that final four series, I was taken away. They didn’t back down when they played UConn, they didn’t play scared, they played to win and that’s what they did. And the shots Arike hit — I can remember them going up. I was sitting on the couch as the ball was in the air. I stood up, holding my breath. It went in and I went so crazy jumping, all around the living room, screaming.
Jordan: What has been your favorite part about playing high school basketball? Going into your senior year, what are some goals you have for yourself and for your team?
Samantha: My favorite part about playing high school ball is getting to play with my team, because the girls make it fun for me, as well as getting to play for coach Stafford. The community I play in front of is also one of my favorite parts, because they pack the gym for every game and make it loud and energetic and that’s the kind of environment that’s fun to play in.
And then also playing against rival teams. It’s always fun to play those games because I go to the same high school my mom did and I remember the stories she has from her days playing rivals, so I enjoy getting to play those same schools like she did.
Some goals I have for myself is to make sure this last year is a fun one and a memorable one. It’s the last one for me and I would love to go out with a bang but also have fun with it. Team goals would include getting a state championship (it’d be the first one in our school history for girls basketball), and also make sure that we take it game by game and not look into the future, because we can only control what’s right in front of us. So winning the game that night is more important than winning a game a week from then.
We want to enjoy the journey and make sure we progress practice by practice and game by game. We get everyone back from last years team and added two more pieces this year, so it’ll be exciting to see where we go this year.
And now for some non-basketball related questions…
Jordan: If you weren’t playing basketball, what sport would you play?
Samantha: If I didn’t play basketball, it’d be either volleyball or softball (both of which I played before).
Jordan: When you’re not playing basketball, what can people find you doing?
Samantha: When I’m not playing, you’ll find me at another athletic game or at the mall.
Jordan: What is your favorite thing you did over the summer?
Samantha: Favorite thing I did this summer was win my second gold medal (third medal in total).
Jordan: What are you watching on Netflix right now?
Samantha: And I’m not currently watching one specific show on Netflix but recently have been watching old movies I haven’t watched in a while.
We wish Samantha all the best during her senior year, and look forward to checking in on her throughout the season as her arrival on campus at Notre Dame draws near.