Notre Dame Basketball: Toughest players the Irish will face in 2018-19

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 26: Zion Williamson of Spartanburg Day School attempts a dunk during the 2018 McDonald's All American Game POWERADE Jam Fest at Forbes Arena on March 26, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 26: Zion Williamson of Spartanburg Day School attempts a dunk during the 2018 McDonald's All American Game POWERADE Jam Fest at Forbes Arena on March 26, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

With Notre Dame football making a case for the playoff and the Women’s basketball team ready to repeat, there’s a lot to enjoy as an Irish fan. For the Notre Dame basketball fanatics, life is about to get a whole lot better.

The NBA season has started which means one thing: Notre Dame basketball is right around the corner.

Notre Dame is in for a tall task this season after losing Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell. The lack of their presence left the Irish out of the Preseason AP poll. With Rex Pflueger and Elijah Burns leading the brigade this season, there are a lot of unknowns.

How will those two lead? Is D.J. Harvey ready to bounce back from last season’s knee injury? How good will transfer Juwan Durham and the freshman class be?

We could go on and on. There are a lot of unknowns, which can be scary considering how difficult Notre Dame’s schedule is this season.

With all the tough competition ahead, here are some of the toughest individuals Notre Dame will face.

RJ Barrett, Duke, G/F Freshman

Barrett not only is a part of the vastly talented Duke freshman class, but he could also be the most NBA-ready player.

At 6-7 with the attribute of being a shot maker, he’s going to cause a lot of teams problems this season. He defends well, but what’s most impressive is when he’s in transition. He’s the type of player that is going to attack — especially in the half court.

You are going to see Duke run in transition with Barrett on the court this season off of a make or miss. This is a team that will do its best to run you off the court. His ability to play the two or three will make him a matchup nightmare.

Zion Williamson, Duke PF/C, Freshman

It was never in doubt that Barrett’s teammate Williamson would also make this list. The question for everyone this season will be, who guards Williamson?

Not to compare their games, but Williamson is a bit of an unorthodox matchup like Colson was a season ago. He stands 6-7, but is also 285 pounds. His weight makes him powerful, especially in the paint. Where he becomes the biggest threat is with the explosiveness that he also possesses. You’ll see him take off in the half court and also be able to explode off of a quick cut to the rim.

Notre Dame doesn’t play Duke until January 28th, where it’s likely that any questions about Williamson’s game will be answered by that time.

Nassir Little, North Carolina SG/SF, Freshman

Little will have a tough task trying to become the second go-to scoring option behind Luke Maye. The biggest reason why Little makes this list is his athleticism. Even if he has poor shooting nights, his physical traits still warrant notice.

He’s the type of player that will pull you out to the wing then beat you as he slashes to the basket.

Defensively, he will be tough to beat. He’s quick enough to not worry about shooters on the wing and strong enough to carry his own in the paint. Whether you’re trying to beat him with a pull-up or a cut to the lane, Little is going to cause a lot of problems for his matchups.

De’Andre Hunter, Virginia SF/PF, Sophomore

The returning ACC Sixth Man of the Year is poised for a break out year. It will be interesting to see how teams attack Hunter now with a season of film. If he improves his shooting, it won’t really matter.

His defense is there. He will find ways to beat you and has the ability to guard multiple positions. As an athletic 6-7 player, a fundamentally sound defender and can be a solid shot blocker.

His length makes him a threat while driving to the basket. If he can create shots for himself, he’ll be one of the most impactful players for Virginia.

Ky Bowman, Boston College PG, Junior

If you are looking for a player to push the pace, Bowman is the guy. He’s a guard that will attack you the second you show any sign of fatigue. If your hands are on your knees, it’s game over.

Last season he averaged 17.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game. This season he will be looked at even more as the go-to guy. He has great command of the ball and processes great explosion.

He can shoot from deep, posterize you at the rim and set you on the floor with his dribble moves.

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Offensively he could be the most exciting players in the ACC with all of his highlight plays. Quick hands and shot blocking ability on the defensive end round out his game.