Luther Muhammad another I-95 guy that intrigues Notre Dame men's basketball program

Tom Noie
South Bend Tribune

Four games in three days on the last AAU basketball tournament stop of the month await this weekend in Indianapolis, but high school junior guard Luther Muhammad also will carve out some personal time in the process.

A 6-foot-3 combo guard from Hudson Catholic (N.J.) High School, Muhammad and his mother are scheduled on an 8 a.m. flight out of the New York/New Jersey area into Chicago. From there, they’ll make the 90-mile trek to South Bend, where Muhammad will visit to the University of Notre Dame. Then it’s on to Indy for some hoops.

It will be the first time Muhammad sees campus on his planes, games and automobiles weekend. His tweet Wednesday morning about the visit included smiley/winking face and hang loose emojis. Notre Dame first started recruiting Muhammad during the last spring/summer AAU circuit. Irish coach Mike Brey took in a Hudson Catholic scrimmage last fall. He and assistant coach Ryan Ayers have maintained steady contact with Muhammad.

“Ryan Ayers has done a phenomenal job recruiting Luther,” Hudson Catholic coach Nick Mariniello said.

Notre Dame is a school that Muhammad, ranked a four-star, top-60 recruit, wants to dig into deeper. If all goes well on his unofficial visit and then through this summer, Muhammad may be back in the fall in an official capacity.

“The education, the prestige, the alumni base, I’m really excited to see what it’s all about out there,” Muhammad said by phone during a break from classes early Wednesday afternoon. “I didn’t think I was that good until I saw the big-time schools (at open gym last fall) and I was like, ‘Whoa, I actually have a future in this.’”

When Muhammad makes his way down U.S. 31 for the weekend AAU tournament, college coaches may not see him go for the most points or rebounds or assists on his Sports U team. And that’s fine by Muhammad. He finds other ways to impact games, ways that don’t necessarily include shooting or rebounding.

“He doesn’t have to have the basketball in his hands to be good,” Mariniello said. “He plays the game the right way. He’s the hardest-working guy in practice.”

Which means he fits the profile of what Brey and his staff look for in recruits – especially in the Northeast part of the country. Brey likes how Irish seniors Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell and junior Elijah Burns and sophomore T.J. Gibbs all play with that I-95 edge. They’re tough. Smart. Focused.

Muhammad is of the same mold. Score points? He averaged 16 a game as a junior and has already gone past 1,000 for his career. That’s been fun, but not as much as limiting looks from guys on the other team. He often prefers to dig in and defend, then maybe get an opponent off his game by talking a little. Or a lot.

“There will be games where you can’t pile up buckets, so you’ve got to figure out what else you can do to impact the game,” Muhammad said. “If you’re going to talk trash, you’ve got to play defense.”

Muhammad likely will cross paths Thursday with Gibbs, a fellow New Jersey native and guard. The two played against one another in high school.

“I haven’t seen him since he left for college,” Muhammad said. “It’s going to be great to catch up with him and see how he likes it.”

Muhammad also has Butler, Seton Hall, St. John’s and Xavier on his recruiting radar. He’d like to have a decision in the fall before the start of his senior season.

Notre Dame may have as many as seven scholarships to offer the Class of 2018. That number may be affected by any potential college transfers. Former Connecticut power forward Juwan Durham, who played one season in Storrs, is scheduled to visit Notre Dame next week.

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