Quality over quantity in incoming Notre Dame men's basketball recruiting class

Tom Noie
South Bend Tribune

One isn’t necessarily the loneliest number when it comes to Notre Dame men’s basketball recruiting classes.

For only the third time in his 18-plus seasons in South Bend, coach Mike Brey is bringing in only one true freshman with his latest recruiting class. But if history is any indication, swingman D.J. Harvey from DeMatha (Md.) Catholic High School will be a good one.

The previous two recruiting classes that produced only one player each – in 2004 and 2011 – delivered to Notre Dame two high school seniors who became mainstays of productivity in the program.

In the summer of 2004, power forward Rob Kurz arrived from suburban Philadelphia. Kurz was a 1,000-point scorer, a two-time team captain and the glue that helped hold everything together, especially his final two seasons when the Irish went a combined 49-16, 25-9 in the Big East.

In the summer of 2011, swingman Pat Connaughton arrived from suburban Boston. Four seasons later, Connaughton also ended his career as a 1,000-point scorer and became one of the most consistent rebounders in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Fueled by his drive and determination as a senior, Notre Dame won a school record 32 games, captured the ACC conference tournament championship and nearly advanced to the Final Four for the first time since 1978.

Connaughton holds the school record for games played (139).

So the bar has been raised — and is rather high — for Harvey, who may have all the tools to carry on the one-player class tradition of excellence. He should challenge for immediate playing time and possibly a starting spot, in the coming months.

Following is a closer look at the Irish incoming freshman and how he fared during his senior year of high school.

• D.J. HARVEY

Particulars: 6-foot-6, 205 pounds.

Position: Shooting guard/small forward

Hometown: Bowie, Md.

High School: DeMatha (Md.) Catholic

On Twitter: @TheRealDJHarvey (4,057 tweets; 3,275 followers)

Status: Harvey committed to Notre Dame over Alabama, Connecticut and Texas on Comcast Mid-Atlantic in late-September and signed his letter of intent during the early signing period in November. He will arrive in June for summer school.

2016-17 season: Harvey averaged 17.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 2.9 assists. He shot 40.3 percent from 3 and 79 percent from the free-throw line.

Recruiting resume: Considered a four-star recruit by the three major services (ESPN.com, Rivals.com and Scout.com), Harvey is ranked the No. 50 prospect nationally by ESPN, 52 by Rivals and 43 by Scout.

Notable: A four-year starter for the Stags, Harvey won 118 games during his high school career. That ranks third in DeMatha history behind former Pittsburgh point guard James Robinson (122 wins) and former Kentucky guard Keith Bogans (120). … Only two players in the history of DeMatha’s famed program have started their first varsity games as true freshmen – Harvey and former Notre Dame All-American Adrian Dantley, ranked third in Irish history for points scored (2,223). Dantley won 117 games at DeMatha. … Harvey played in two post-season all-star games. He scored three points in his team’s 122-109 win at the annual Kentucky Derby Festival Classic at Freedom Hall in mid-April. He then scored 13 points in his team’s 198-152 loss in the inaugural Allen Iverson Roundball Classic in late April.

His high school coach says: “We didn’t win the (state) championship, but it wasn’t because of him. He had a really good year, showed some good leadership this year. Numbers-wise and his impact on the program, he’ll go down as one of the best players to play at DeMatha.

“He’s good enough to score at all three levels no matter the competition. He can make 3s. He can get to the rim. I think his best attribute is his mid-range game.

“I feel a little biased (because) he’s someone that I watched grow up right before my eyes. He’s one of those rare players to play all four years of varsity at DeMatha. Beyond basketball, I’m just going to miss watching a young man become someone so talented with a bright future. On the court, I don’t think there’s one thing you can say you’re going to miss. Just the fact that he was out there on our side, it always gave us a chance to win every game we played and that’s a luxury that we won’t have any more.

“His maturity in his game took a big step. He was so athletic and so big and strong and he used to try and get to the rim anytime he wanted to, but that mid-range game that developed gave him confidence to do something else when teams tried to load up and he couldn’t get to the rim.”

• DeMatha Catholic (Md.) coach Mike Jones

An opposing coach says: “A tremendous player. He’s been a great player in our league for four years. Coach Brey has done really well with guys like D.J. and his length and athleticism and his ability to shoot the ball. He’s going to have some good things happening for him when he gets there.

“He’s long and athletic, but he can also get to the rim and plays above the rim. He’s at his best when he’s hitting his pull-up jumper and elevating above people.

“With his athleticism and length, immediately he can become a lock-down defender for those guys if he decides that, 'Hey, I want to emphasize defense' if scoring isn’t what they need from him right away. Defense is the one area where he can make his mark early and allow everything else to fall into place.

“I’m excited about the next part of his journey.”

• Gonzaga (D.C.) College High School coach Steven Turner

tnoie@ndinsider.com

(574) 235-6153

@tnoieNDI

Incoming Notre Dame freshman swingman D.J. Harvey played a lot and won a lot during his prep career at DeMatha (Md.) Catholic High School. (Photo courtesy/Forestville (Md.) Sentinel)