Irish hoops get commitment from G Rex Pflueger

Tom Noie
South Bend Tribune

He had opportunities to go to college and play basketball close to home, stay where the weather is nice and the sun is warm and the snow is but a rumor.

But that’s not Rex Pflueger, who late Thursday night decided that he wanted to spend the next four years in the snow and cold of South Bend, where he’ll play basketball in the Atlantic Coast Conference for Notre Dame.

Pflueger, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif., committed earlier in the evening to Irish coach Mike Brey.

Pflueger, who lives in Chula Vista, toured Notre Dame last weekend on his official visit. He also took an official visit down Interstate 5 at San Diego State, the school many figured he would eventually attend.

Everyone, that is, except Pflueger.

“I’m a risk-taker, and a lot of people thought I wouldn’t be able to leave the California weather behind and go to college,” Pflueger told the Tribune as he hustled home to study for an AP statistics test. “But that’s not me. The weather isn’t that big of a deal.

“I knew my heart was at Notre Dame and I just decided this was the time to commit. With the season coming up and school starting to kick in, I knew I had to get my mind right.”

Pflueger’s visit to Notre Dame was the second time he’s seen campus, and the first since he and his family happened to be passing through town some six years ago when they decided to attend a Notre Dame football game against Purdue. He admitted he knew nothing then of the Irish basketball program.

He knows a whole lot now.

“They have two senior guards (Pat Connaughton, Jerian Grant) who are set to graduate next year and they have a great coach,” Pflueger said. “It’s a great fit. I just had a great feeling.”

This isn’t the first time paths have crossed between the Pfluegers and the Breys. It turns out that Pflueger’s grandmother and Brey’s mother, Betty, taught in the same elementary school back in Maryland.

“They,” Pflueger said, “actually remember each other.”

Pflueger’s father, like Brey, was raised in Maryland.

“They still have that Maryland connection,” Pflueger said.

Brey and assistant coach Martin Ingelsby visited Pflueger at Mater Dei on Wednesday. This was the first week that college coaches were allowed to make in-home visits with prospects.

Other schools on Pflueger’s final wish list were California, Texas A&M and Washington State. Pflueger averaged 12 points, five rebounds, 4.5 assists and two steals as a junior at Mater Dei, which finished 27-0.

He is considered a four-star prospect by ESPN.com and Rivals.com and a three-star recruit by Scout.com. ESPN ranks Pflueger the No. 40 shooting guard. He is not ranked for shooting guards by the other two major recruiting services.

Pflueger played AAU basketball for the Oakland Soldiers. He’s the first California prospect to commit to Notre Dame since the Irish landed swingman Joe Harden from Acampo in the spring of 2006. Harden spent one season in South Bend before transferring to UC-Davis.

Pflueger is the third high school player to commit to Notre Dame. Back in July, the Irish received commitments on consecutive weekends from AAU teammates Matt Ryan (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.) and Elijah Burns (Albany, N.Y.). Both also visited campus last weekend along with Pflueger.

Ryan is considered a college small forward, Burns a power forward.

The Irish have one scholarship remaining for the 2015 recruiting class. Also visiting last weekend with the trio of now-committed seniors was guard Jalen Coleman from LaLumiere School in LaPorte. Coleman, who is scheduled to visit UNLV this weekend, also has Illinois among his final schools.

Coleman is ranked the nation’s No. 33 prospect by ESPN.com.

The early signing period begins in November. Under NCAA recruiting regulations, Brey is prohibited from commenting on any commitments or potential prospects until players sign. He did say last month that the Irish were open to signing four players this fall, or saving a scholarship for the spring.

Notre Dame coach Mike Brey landed a commitment late Thursday from shooting guard Rex Pfleuger. (SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN)