Prep basketball prospect Aden Holloway has a plan, but is Notre Dame part of it?
LAPORTE, Ind. — When Aden Holloway races down the court with the ball in his possession he doesn't tip his hand.
His eyes dart to his left, with an open La Lumiere teammate on the wing ready to shoot. Another teammate is on his right. He then centers himself, sizing up the Legacy Early College defender in front him. He has options. He knows where all of them are.
He doesn't show it, but Holloway seems to always have a plan with the ball in his hands.
"Honestly, I’m just really looking for what the defense gives me and I’m looking at matchups," Holloway said following La Lumiere's 74-46 win to begin its U.S. Marines NIBC (National Interscholastic Basketball Conference) LaPorte Invitational slate. "See if I can take my guy off of the dribble. See if I am a little quicker, if he is giving me space. Just seeing what the defense gives me."
Holloway finished the game with 15 points in 23 minutes on 6 of 16 shooting from the field, only behind Notre Dame 2022 signee, four-star guard J.J. Starling's game-high 20 points.
The 6-foot junior four-star point guard, ranked as the No. 53 recruit in the 2023 class by 247sports.com, made 3 of his seven 3-point attempts. He beat the Legacy Early College defense off the dribble with strong finishes amongst traffic at the basket. He was patient, waiting for driving lanes to open, taking the ball himself or dishing out one of his four assists. He was also active around the glass, adding six rebounds. In essence, he did exactly what put him on the national recruiting map, which includes Mike Brey and the Irish.
'Where else would you want to play':LaPorte becomes the epicenter of high school boys hoops
Holloway currently holds offers from a handful of ACC programs, including Virginia Tech, Syracuse, Wake Forest and Notre Dame, who offered Holloway on Sept. 23. Just like there is on the court, Holloway has a plan to his recruitment.
Nobody can really see it yet, because right now, he is letting the dust settle around him, waiting to make his move when the opportunity is right.
"It really is just getting started," Holloway said. "I am nowhere near picking a college yet. I am nowhere near a final decision. I am still waiting on some schools, but right now, just keeping in touch with coaches at Notre Dame, Wake Forest, Cincinnati."
Though Holloway, a Matthews, North Carolina native, isn't ready to dot or cross letters on any official papers, he assesses Notre Dame's chances as still being in the mix.
"I love Notre Dame, They have such a family environment there and have a great conference, they play great competition," he said. "The coaching staff shows love. Just a great, great program."
It also helps Notre Dame having someone as excited as Starling is to wear the blue and gold next year in South Bend, always in Holloway's ear. And make no mistake, Starling, who was one of three players to sign to Notre Dame's 2022 class, takes that opportunity every chance he gets.
"That’s my little brother, man," Starling said. "It would be nice to play with him at the next level. At the same time, he has his own process and own recruitment, so I am happy for him either way. I’m telling him, 'If you come here I am going to have you under my wing and we will play well together, but at the same time, you are going to go wherever you go.'"
"It will work great. Aden is a great shooter. Combine that with me getting him involved, stuff like that, we just feed off of each other."
That was evident Thursday at the LaPorte Civic Auditorium, where the duo were clearly the best two players on the court in their game, which was broadcasted on ESPNU. Starling finished 8 of 16 from the field and connected on four 3-pointers.
La Lumiere's game on Friday against No. 1 Montverde, who lost to No. 2 Sunrise Christian in Thursday's Invitational action, will be televised at 9 p.m. EST on ESPN2.
There is a final goal to this plan, which of course ends with Holloway picking the school he feels fits him best. Could it be the Irish? He said there is still work to do on that front — getting more of a feel for the program, watching more of Notre Dame's games (he may have liked what he saw in Wednesday's win over the Tar Heels) and forming stronger relationships with the coaching staff. Notre Dame assistants, Ryan Humphrey and Antoni Wyche, were in attendance at Thursday's game, watching a potential talented backcourt of the Irish's future.
Brey wants it. Starling, of course does, too. The only holdout left is Holloway. He's got himself a plan, and will work through it over the next year.
Moreover, Holloway wants to find the program that will let him grow into himself.
"I just want to pick a school that allows me to come in and be me, and give me freedom to do what I do," he said. "I am not forcing anything. Just looking for that school to give me freedom, the ability to make mistakes, play through my mistakes and get better."