5 Biggest Keys for Notre Dame Basketball in 2018-19

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 06: TJ Gibbs Jr.
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 06: TJ Gibbs Jr. /
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Notre Dame basketball
BUFFALO, NY – MARCH 16: Head coach Mike Brey of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish claps during the first half against the Princeton Tigers during the first round of the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at KeyBank Center on March 16, 2017 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

2. Emergence of the Freshmen

Mike Brey likes to stay old, but this team cannot afford that luxury. It also shouldn’t have to. With arguably the best class of the Brey era now on campus, the freshmen will be expected to contribute — and probably in a big way.

The crown jewel of the class is point guard Prentiss Hubb, and he is also coming off a significant injury. Also out of the Maryland high school ranks, Hubb would have challenged the likes of Harvey and Demetrius Jackson as a borderline five star recruit if not for the injury. Regardless, he is fully back and looks like the starting point guard for the opener. Much like Harvey and Jackson before him, Hubb is expected to be a significant contributor early on in his career. He can shoot, he can drive and he can defend on the perimeter. Irish fans should feel lucky to have him.

Nate Laszewski finished as the top rated recruit in the Notre Dame class and for good reason. Hubb might have finished ahead without the injury, but Laszewski was certainly deserving. Standing at 6-10, Laszewski might be the best shooter in the country already, while also showing toughness and touch around the basket. There is still some bulk that needs to be added, but with his outside shooting ability and overall basketball sense, he will be a welcome addition to the roster this season. For a player comparison, think Tim Abromaitis and Matt Ryan with more length and more polish early on.

The next two freshmen have a lot to offer in their own right, but might be more on the Mike Brey freshman playing path than Hubb and Laszewski.

Robby Carmody has a lot of Pat Connaughton in his game from a toughness and athletic standpoint. Connaughton probably has him beat as perimeter shooter, but Carmody can score at all three levels and defend bigger than his height might suggest.

Dane Goodwin is another talented perimeter player that Notre Dame grabbed fairly quickly after a de-commitment from Ohio State. Goodwin will remind a lot of fans of Steve Vasturia because of his stout defense and three point shooting prowess. He’s probably the second best shooter in the Irish class.

All four of these freshmen will contribute in year one, and their development and ability to produce at a high level will play a significant role in how far this teams goes.