In a coaches meeting in early March about what went wrong during the 2019-20 Notre Dame women’s basketball season, ramping up recruiting was offered as the No. 1 solution.
Niele Ivey, the Irish head coach since Wednesday, wasn’t in that meeting, dissecting the 13-18 finish. But apparently she got the message loud and clear.
On Sunday, her fifth day on the job in succeeding retired coaching icon Muffett McGraw, Ivey landed her second top 20 recruit.
Sonia Citron, a 6-foot-1 guard from Scarsdale, N.Y., verbally committed to the Irish on Sunday via Twitter, two days after 5-10 point guard Olivia Miles of Phillipsburg, N.J., became the first ND recruit in the 2021 class.
Citron is the reigning Gatorade Player of the Year in New York, and the No. 16 player nationally regardless of position in the ESPN girls basketball prospect rankings for the 2021 class. Miles, meanwhile, is No. 2 in the ESPN Top 100.
The two were teammates on the USA Basketball U16 national team in the summer of 2019 that romped to the gold medal at the FIBA Americas U16 Championship in Aysen, Chile.
Oregon, Stanford, Ohio State and four Ivy League schools were among her many scholarship offers, a reflection of the five-star prospect’s prowess on the court and in the classroom.
Citron averaged 23.8 points, 10.6 rebounds, 4.3 steals and 3.1 assists during her recently completed junior season at The Ursuline School, an all-girls, Catholic school located in New Rochelle, N.Y.
“This is the consummate fundamental guard/teammate who wants to win ahead of the individual-statistic type of thing,” said recruiting analyst Dan Olson, who compiles ESPN’s rankings.
“She didn’t play on a high-profile travel team. She really didn’t care about the limelight, but finally she didn’t have any choice in the matter, because she went out to the USA trials and took a spot on the team and then was a contributing factor in their success.”
Citron averaged 13.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists for Team USA. At Ursuline, she’s also a soccer standout.
She made the high school varsity team as an eighth-grader, and averaged a double-double that season and every season since.
Her father, William, played collegiately for Bradley.
“She doesn’t put up gaudy numbers, crazy points or anything like that,” Olson said. “She just fills the stat sheet, understands how to play the game, has a silky smooth shot. Just almost unassuming, but smooth in the way she plays.
“This kid’s legit and has been a top 20 kid in the country for well over a year.”
The Irish signed five players in the last cycle, collectively ranked as the nation’s No. 3 recruiting class and led by forward Maddy Westbeld. And now Ivey has grabbed that momentum and has added to it.
“Niele Ivey has got a great place to sell,” Olson said. “She’s a highly recognizable name in the business. She’s one of these really dynamic coaches in the women’s game who will continue to take the torch and move forward.
“It’s well-deserved for her. They haven’t missed a beat. I would say that all is well in the world of women’s basketball when it comes to South Bend right now.”