MEN'S BASKETBALL

Pro basketball journey begins for Pat Connaughton

IRISH STEW

Tom Noie
South Bend Tribune

The first step toward a possible professional basketball career starts Thursday for former Notre Dame swingman Pat Connaughton.

Connaughton is one of 64 college seniors set to showcase their skills for NBA scouts in the 63rd annual Portsmouth (Va.) Invitational. Connaughton is part of a Portsmouth Partnership team that opens tournament play Thursday at 9 p.m. against K&D Rounds Landscaping.

Connaughton is one of three seniors who played in the Atlantic Coast Conference participating in the weekend showcase. Also on Portsmouth rosters are Darion Atkins (Virginia) and Ralston Turner (North Carolina State).

Connaughton averaged 12.5 points and 7.4 rebounds in 35.6 minutes this season. He shot 46.6 percent from the field and 42.3 percent from 3. He played 1,351 minutes while serving as the lone captain on an Irish team that finished 32-6 overall, 14-4 in the ACC and advanced to their first Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament since 1979.

Notre Dame lost to Kentucky in the Midwest Regional final.

A fourth-round draft pick last summer of the Baltimore Orioles, Connaughton plans to pursue professional basketball (i.e. the NBA) before turning his full athletic attention back to baseball.

He spent last summer pitching for the Orioles' Class A short-season Aberdeen (Md.) IronBirds.

Notre Dame's Pat Connaughton dunks against Kentucky during the second half of an NCAA men's tournament regional final in Cleveland.AP Photo/DAVID RICHARD