Notre Dame women lose popular reserves Brunelle, Peoples and Proshaska to transfer portal

Anthony Anderson
ND Insider
Feb 3, 2022; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish forward Sam Brunelle (33) reacts after a three point basket in the first half against the Virginia Tech Hokies at the Purcell Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

SOUTH BEND — Forward Sam Brunelle and guards Anaya Peoples and Abby Prohaska — the top three backups this season for Notre Dame’s Sweet 16 women’s basketball team — each shared on social media late Wednesday afternoon that they are entering the NCAA transfer portal.

An ND spokesperson texted Thursday morning that head coach Niele Ivey “isn’t commenting at this time."

While using the portal does not prevent a player from ultimately deciding to remain at her original school, Brunelle, Peoples and Prohaska all posted messages that at least suggested they might not be back.

Each has two seasons of eligibility remaining.

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Their messages appeared on Twitter just an hour apart, from 3:33 to 4:34 p.m., with Brunelle in the middle at 3:55. Each individual utilized the same graphic design and each posted in all capital letters (which is adjusted below).

Sam Brunelle

Brunelle wrote: “Dear Irish Nation, these past three years have been the most amazing years of my life. Coming to Notre Dame was a dream come true and I am thankful for all the memories, friends, connections I have made while being here. I’ve had time to reflect on my next steps, which include graduating this coming summer with a degree in film, television and theatre and starting a new master’s program this coming fall.

“I want to thank Coach McGraw for giving me the opportunity to become Fighting Irish, and also to Coach Ivey for continuing to help me grow on and off the court. I am also grateful to have had such an amazing support staff behind me over the past few years. With that being said, I have decided to enter my name into the transfer portal with two years of eligibility left. I am forever Irish, and forever grateful to call this place home.”

Peoples wrote: “My three years at Notre Dame have allowed me to build some of the best relationships and memories with my teammates, coaches and fans. I will forever cherish my time at Notre Dame and the people I have met here. Thank you to Coach Ivey and Coach McGraw for providing me with the opportunity to play at the University of Notre Dame. With that being said, I have decided to put my name in the transfer portal to explore other opportunities in finishing my last two years of eligibility.

“Irish Nation will always hold a special place in my heart.”

Anaya Peoples

Prohaska wrote: “Irish Nation, there are no words in the world that could sum up the experience of my four years here at Notre Dame. You embraced me from the moment I stepped foot on this campus. I am beyond thankful for the love and support you have given me throughout my tenure here. I have given everything I have to this program and hope to have left it a little bit better than I found it. Thank you to Coach McGraw and Coach Ivey for granting me the opportunity to chase my dream.

“With that being said, I am entering my name in the transfer portal for the remaining two years of my eligibility. I am looking forward to a fresh start, but will never forget the impact this university has had on my life. Number 12 signing off.”

Abby Prohaska

Brunelle and Peoples, both juniors this season, arrived at Notre Dame in 2019.

Prohaska arrived the previous season and as a freshman played in 38 of the team’s 39 games, with three starts, on its way to a national runner-up finish. She was the No. 73-ranked prospect nationally in the high school class of 2018 by ESPN, while Brunelle and Peoples — both McDonald’s All-Americans — were rated No. 6 and No. 18 the following year.

In her first season, Brunelle started all 31 games on coach Muffet McGraw’s final Irish team, one that finished 13-18. She averaged 13.9 points on her way to Atlantic Coast Conference all-freshman honors.

Peoples played in just 17 games due to injury, but averaged 12.6 points and was named to the ACC all-freshman unit as well.

Feb 10, 2022; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish guard Anaya Peoples (21) dribbles as Miami Hurricanes guard Kelsey Marshall (20) defends in the second half at the Purcell Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

She remained a starter in 2019-20 as a sophomore, averaging 9.1 points in 28.0 minutes, while Brunelle added 8.7 points in 22.8 while coming off the bench for a 10-10 club.

This season, appearing in 32 of 33 games, Brunelle finished at 6.8 points in 16.5 minutes while playing through multiple injury issues for 24-9 ND.

Peoples, a starter in each of her first 17 appearances before giving way to freshman Sonia Citron, finished at 3.8 points in 19.7 minutes.

Prohaska twice missed more than a month of game action this season, the first time due to a concussion, the second after suffering a facial injury that required eye surgery.

In 20 games, she averaged 3.6 points and 12.1 minutes.

Prohaska also missed all of the 2019-20 season after being diagnosed that October with bilateral pulmonary embolism, meaning blood clots in both lungs.

Notre Dame's Abby Prohaska (12) looks to pass around Ohio's Erica Johnson (4) during an NCAA basketball game on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/Robert Franklin)

A fan favorite, she returned the following season and resumed her typical style of gritty play that included taking charges and diving for loose balls.

Brunelle and Peoples have enjoyed hearty fan support during their ND careers as well, with Brunelle perhaps being the team’s most emphatic player in terms of expressing gratitude toward fans and for being at Notre Dame.

If Maya Dodson’s petition to the NCAA for an additional season of eligibility is granted, the Irish could still have all five starters coming back next winter in her, Citron, Olivia Miles, Dara Mabrey and Maddy Westbeld.

Sophomore forward Nat Marshall, who was sidelined in late January and underwent season-ending knee surgery, could also return.

Senior Katlyn Gilbert is still listed on the roster and has remaining eligibility as well, but never played after Dec. 19 with “personal reasons” cited by the program.

Two-time Ohio Ms. Basketball KK Bransford is the lone incoming freshman signed, though Ivey has previously said that the program will continue to explore adding transfers.