Notre Dame secures commitment from PF Nate Laszewski

Tom Noie
South Bend Tribune

A Notre Dame basketball recruiting class that opened with a bang in the spring closed with another in the fall.

On Wednesday, the Irish and coach Mike Brey got their guy.

Their big guy.

Notre Dame rounded out what likely will be a Top 10 recruiting class nationally with the commitment of power forward Nate Laszewski. He chose Notre Dame, the first school he officially visited in September, over fellow Atlantic Coast Conference schools Wake Forest and North Carolina. Laszewski also considered Arizona and Wisconsin.

Laszewski’s AAU team – the New England Playaz – announced the commitment on Twitter early Wednesday afternoon. Phone and text messages Wednesday for Laszewski were not returned.

Laszewski returned Sunday from an official visit to North Carolina. Brey and associate head coach Rod Balanis and assistant coach Ryan Humphrey were at his prep school – Northfield Mount Hermon in Gill, Mass. — on Monday night.

Mondays became something of a Notre Dame Night at Mount Hermon. Ever since the evaluation period commenced at the start of September, Brey or an assistant or even the entire staff made Mount Hermon a routine Monday stop. They were there on Sept. 11. Again on Sept. 14. And once more Monday.

“It was clear that they made Nate a priority,” said Mount Hermon coach John Carroll.

And clear that Laszewski made Notre Dame a priority. As of Tuesday morning, Laszewski was still considering Notre Dame and North Carolina and Wake Forest. By Tuesday night, he was down to one school.

Notre Dame.

“He started thinking about it a lot more,” Carroll said. “I figured he’d be ready to commit by Friday.”

The 6-foot-10, 205-pound Laszewski is the only high school senior to make an official visit to Notre Dame, which he did the weekend of Sept. 9. He played pickup prior to the football game against Georgia with current and former Irish. Each time Laszewski made a basket, and he made a bunch of them, he received an ovation from the thousand or so fans in the Purcell Pavilion stands.

Bonzie Colson’s consistent work around the bucket didn’t garner as much enthusiasm. Nor did Irish senior guard Matt Farrell’s. Or NBA guys and fellow Irish Demetrius Jackson’s or Pat Connaughton’s. Each time Laszewski did anything of interest, fans noticed.

And they reacted.

Loudly.

That stayed with Laszewski.

“We knew that there were going to be some people to watch him play, so he wasn’t that freaked out about it,” Carroll said. “He really liked the style of play and how everyone was really versatile.”

Considered a four-star prospect by the major recruiting services, Laszewski is ranked No. 51 by ESPN, No. 69 by Rivals and No. 93 by Scout.

Laszewski joins a recruiting class that includes guards Robby Carmody (Mars, Pa.), Dane Goodwin (Upper Arlington, Ohio) and Prentiss Hubb (Upper Marlboro, Md.). All three prep senior guards made official visits to Notre Dame and committed in the spring/summer. All are four-star, top 100 prospects.

“It’s a very good recruiting class,” said Rivals national analyst Eric Bossi. “They zeroed in on their top targets at each position and got them all.”

It also likely will be Brey’s best recruiting class in his nearly two-plus decades in South Bend.

“He just continues to plug away,” Bossi said. “I don’t think his recruiting success is any coincidence with the success they’ve had on the floor the last couple of years.”

Notre Dame has advanced to three-straight NCAA Tournaments with two Atlantic Coast Conference tournament championship game appearances, one tournament championship and two NCAA Elite Eights. The Irish have averaged 27.3 overall wins and 12.3 league wins over the last three years.

Hubb’s average national ranking by the three recruiting services is 80.3 Carmody’s is 82.3 while Goodwin is at 89. Hubb, the team’s future at point guard, was the first to commit in the spring. Carmody and Goodwin followed with July commitments.

Prior to Laszewski’s commitment, Notre Dame’s recruiting class was ranked among the Top 10 in the nation. Laszewski’s commitment moved Notre Dame’s team ranking on Rivals from No. 16 to No. 5. Scout had it ranked sixth prior to Laszewski’s commitment.

Following Laszewski’s commitment, Scout had moved Notre Dame up to No. 2 behind only Arizona.

Laszewski has been on Notre Dame’s recruiting radar the last couple of years. He made two unofficial visits to campus in the past, including one last Thanksgiving. It got serious between both sides in the summer when his game – and his name – became more nationally known on the AAU circuit.

By the time July ended, Laszewski was touted as one of the fastest rising prospects in the country with over 20 scholarship offers.

Laszewski averaged 8.7 points and 4.1 rebounds a game as a junior for a Mount Hermon team that was the 2016 regular season and postseason champions of the New England Prep School Athletic Conference.

“He’s the new-age four man that everybody wants,” Bossi said. “He scan step out and stretch the defense and make shots.”

Laszewski averaged 7.4 points and 3.6 rebounds as a sophomore at Northfield.

Also part of this recruiting class is power forward Juwan Durham, who is sitting out this season after transferring from Connecticut. The 6-11 Durham has three seasons of eligibility remaining beginning next year.

Brey has two remaining scholarships to offer this recruiting class. Those likely will carry over to the spring for a late-rising high school senior or possible college transfer. Brey also is open to the idea of adding an in-season transfer at the semester break if — and that’s a big if at this point — the right opportunity and the right prospect present themselves.

Notre Dame officially begins the 2017-18 season with its first practice on Monday. The first game is Nov. 11 at DePaul.

tnoie@ndinsider.com

(574) 235-6153

Twitter: @tnoieNDI

Notre Dame coach Mike Brey picked up a big commitment Wednesday with the addition of power forward Nate Laszewski. (AP Photo/Robert Franklin)