Irish add SF Ryan to Class of 2015

TOM NOIE
South Bend Tribune

When a recruiting window opened last September and college basketball coaches were allowed on the road, Notre Dame dispatched assistant Martin Ingelsby and later head coach Mike Brey to the Lower Hudson Valley outside New York City.

Both visited Iona Preparatory School to see small forward Matt Ryan. Though the 6-foot-7, 210-pound Ryan was barely halfway through high school, and nowhere near making his college choice after receiving some 20 scholarship offers, the presence of the Irish staff sent a clear message.

Ryan was priority No. 1 for Notre Dame in the 2015 recruiting cycle.

Ryan, in turn, is the No. 1 commitment for the Irish just about a year to the day after he received an Irish scholarship offer. He committed late Thursday to Brey, then took to Twitter late Friday morning to announce his choice.

“I’ve been thinking about it the last couple of weeks,” Ryan told the Tribune about his commitment. “I talked with Coach Ingelsby and Coach Brey about it and they felt that before all the (recruiting) craziness of July started, it would be a good time for me to take my spot and give them a good direction to surround me in this class.”

Ryan is considered a three-star prospect by the two major basketball recruiting services — Rivals.com and Scout.com. He is ranked No. 130 in Rivals.com’s Top 150 and the No. 24 small forward by Scout.com.

Those rankings likely would have been a bit better had it not been for a hip injury that cost Ryan most of his junior year.

Bone growth at the top of Ryan’s femur in one of his legs led to painful labrum tears in each hip. Both required surgery in early March. He’s still about a month away from being medically cleared to return to the court, but should be full-go to play pickup when he makes his official visit to Notre Dame the weekend of Sept. 5.

“Not being able to play the whole spring and summer is tough,” Ryan said. “This time last year, I was just blowing up (on the national recruiting scene).

“I just want to focus on getting my body right and taking it slow and be ready for fall workouts.”

Ryan averaged 19 points, eight rebounds and four assists in eight games for Iona Prep before being injured. He also held offers from the likes of Iowa State, Michigan, Pittsburgh, Stanford and West Virginia.

Two Atlantic Coast schools — Duke and North Carolina — expressed interest during Ryan’s junior year. Coaches from both schools wanted to see more from Ryan before dialing up their recruiting attention. But because of the injury, neither school will see Ryan play before the early-November signing period.

“The only way they were going to offer me a scholarship was if they saw me play a game and I don’t believe that’s going to happen,” Ryan said. “I’m Notre Dame 100 percent.”

Ryan’s commitment is much-needed for an Irish program that loses small forward Pat Connaughton to graduation following the 2014-15 season. The 6-5 Connaughton is one of the top rebounders in the ACC. He led the league in defensive rebounds (5.9 per game) last season.

Ryan is considered one of the top pure shooters in the class of 2015, a trait he plans to carry over to college.

“I think everybody knows that I’m going to bring a lot of three-balls to South Bend and a New York attitude on the court and some leadership and toughness as well,” he said.

Under NCAA regulations, Brey is prohibited from commenting on Ryan until he signs in the November signing period. Ryan’s commitment leaves the Irish with two available scholarships to offer high school seniors-to-be.

Iona Prep's Matt Ryan offered a verbal commitment late Thursday to Notre Dame coach Mike Brey. Ryan then made the decision public Friday morning. he is the first player to commit to the Irish Class of 2015.Photo provided/The (N.Y.) Journal News, PETER CARR