Five-star basketball prospect Jarrett Allen eyes Notre Dame

Tom Noie
South Bend Tribune

With one scholarship offer remaining and a little over a month before national signing day, the Notre Dame men's basketball team was expected to turn much of its immediate recruiting attention to an upcoming visit from a certain five-star center.

But when 7-foot Thon Maker makes his expected visit next weekend, he will be the second five-star, Top 20 big man to see campus. The first was scheduled to arrive from Texas via Chicago late Thursday only hours after finalizing plans to make the first of his five allotted official college visits.

Center Jarrett Allen, a 6-foot-10, 225-pound native of Austin, Texas, informed Notre Dame late Wednesday that he was interested in visiting this weekend after declining previous offers. One of the nation's premier post players, Allen only recently started lining up potential visits to schools. A list that at one time included as many as two dozen possible schools has been cut to eight.

Notre Dame is one of the eight.

"They're definitely in the mix," Allen's AAU coach, Marland Lowe, told the Tribune early Thursday evening. "He only gets five visits and they're getting the first one, so it means something."

Allen also lists Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky and Texas, all schools that see their share of five-star prospects roll through their campuses every fall. Kansas has four five-star prospects all scheduled to visit this weekend. Getting even one to town is rare for Notre Dame, which is coming off a 32-6 season that saw the Irish win the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament championship and advance to the NCAA tournament's Elite Eight.

"It could be a fit," said Rivals.com national basketball analyst Eric Bossi said of Allen's interest in Notre Dame. "With the environment and the academic setup, it could be a perfect-storm situation for this kid. He's a big-time talent.

"Getting him on campus is important."

No current player on the Irish roster was a five-star prospect coming out of high school. The last five-star recruit to sign with Notre Dame was former McDonald's All-American Torin Francis in 2002.

Allen is ranked a five-star prospect by all three major recruiting services. He's considered the No. 16 overall prospect - and No. 3 center nationally - by Scout.com. Rivals.com has Allen ranked No. 20. ESPN.com has Allen at No. 19 with scholarship offers from nine schools, though Notre Dame is not listed as one of them.

Allen, who was en route from Chicago via car service late Thursday, did not return a phone message left by the Tribune. He earned Austin (Texas) American-Statesmen All-Central Texas player of the year honors following a junior year in which he averaged 21.4 points, 13.3 rebounds and 4.3 blocks per game for St. Stephen's Episcopal School, a private college preparatory school in Austin.

"He could be the quickest guy end-to-end of anybody on Notre Dame's team right now," Lowe said. "He's a special athlete."

Notre Dame coach Mike Brey and assistant Anthony Solomon had a home visit with Allen last month.

Allen lets his game do most of his talking. Make that almost all of it. He's not overly-active on social media and often spends as minimal amount of time as possible on the phone with college coaches during the time allotted by the NCAA. It's common for a text from a college coach to go unanswered for days....sometimes even weeks.

"Man, he's a very unique individual," said Lowe. "But that's just him. He's all about winning. He's a quiet guy on the outside, but he cares. He's passionate about the game on the inside.

"He's just not a rah-rah guy."

Notre Dame currently has commitments from two high school seniors - point guard Temple "T.J." Gibbs from Seton Hall (N.J.) Prep and power froward John Mooney from Lake Brantley (Fla.) High School. Gibbs committed to Notre Dame in the spring while Mooney committed after his official visit for the Texas football weekend.

Brey is prohibited under NCAA recruiting regulations from commenting on any prospects until they sign their national letters of intent. Gibbs was Notre Dame's top priority this recruiting cycle. Mooney also was an important piece in that he plays a position Brey has long coveted - a power forward with perimeter skills.

A center would complete the class.

Irish coaches tried to get Allen to campus when Gibbs and Mooney made official visits during the Texas weekend. He also was offered a chance to see campus for next week's USC football game. He declined both those invitations before letting it be known - at basically the 11th hour - that he would like to visit for the Navy game.

Maker, also a five-star prospect, was ranked in the Top 10 in 2015 before reclassifying to the Class of 2016. He's attending Orangeville (Ontario) Prep School. He also received a home visit last month from Notre Dame. Scheduled to make his official visit the weekend of the USC game, Maker is considered a likely one-and-done college prospect

tnoie@ndinsider.com

(574) 235-6153

@tnoieNDI

Notre Dame coach Mike Brey and his men's basketball program will entertain five-star prospect Jarrett Allen on campus this weekend.AP File Photo/GENE J. PUSKAR Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)