Notre Dame lands hoops commitment from Santa Clara guard Trey Wertz

Tom Noie
South Bend Tribune

First time through the college basketball recruiting process for Charlotte, N.C., guard Trey Wertz, Notre Dame was among one of the last schools to show interest when he was in high school.

Wertz was intrigued by the Irish, but had already made up his mind to attend Santa Clara. Two years into his college career, when Wertz jumped into the NCAA transfer portal in late March, Notre Dame was one of the first schools to reach out. The Irish interest never wavered, something that made an impression on Wertz.

So on Saturday afternoon, after sitting on his announcement for three days, Wertz committed to Notre Dame among a final four wish list that included Arizona, Butler and North Carolina.

“I sat down and weighed all my options; there wasn’t really a bad option on my list,” said Wertz, who committed Wednesday to Irish coach Mike Brey. “I had to take my time and dive deep into little details of every school. When I did all that, I came to the realization that I love Coach Brey and his staff and I can’t wait to get to campus.”

Get there, in part, so he can actually be on campus from a physical standpoint. Thanks to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Wertz didn’t visit any of the four schools the last two weeks, but did see them through Zoom tours. He spent about an hour on a call which was part presentation, part tour of Notre Dame during his re-recruiting process. He saw the campus. He saw the facilities. He saw himself at Notre Dame.

“It’s definitely weird with the virus not being able to see the campuses,” he said. “The academic tradition of Notre Dame kind of speaks for itself.”

Wertz is ranked by Stadium Basketball Insider Jeff Goodman as the No. 8 transfer in the portal. This weekend, there were more than 650 players seeking a new hoops home.

The 6-foot-5, 180-pounder decided to transfer in late March. It took all of about 15 minutes for the first head coach to make contact. That first day, nearly 60 schools called. Irish assistant coach Ryan Humphrey texted Wertz hours after his name was in the transfer portal.

“Me and Coach Brey and Coach Hump have pretty much talked every day since then,” Wertz said.

Wertz said he waited to announce his commitment so his younger brother, Khamani, could enjoy his birthday on Friday. That was Khamani’s day. Saturday was Wertz’s. He also considered Ohio State, Oklahoma and Virginia.

A member of the All-West Coast Conference freshman team two years ago, Wertz averaged 11.9 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 31 games with 29 starts as a sophomore for the Broncos, who finished 20-13 overall, 6-10 in conference. Wertz shot 48.9 percent from the field, 40 percent from 3 and 75.7 percent from the foul line. A two-year starter at Santa Clara, he averaged 28.6 minutes a game last season.

Who is Wertz on the court?

“A guard who can shoot, score, make plays for himself,” he said. “Somebody who really hates to lose.”

Coming out of high school, Wertz had nearly 30 scholarship offers and was a two-time all-state selection. He was among North Carolina’s top 15 prospects as a prep senior after averaging 18 points, six rebounds and five assists for Providence Day School in Charlotte. Wertz was a high school teammate of guard Devon Dotson, who led Kansas in scoring last season (18.0 ppg.). He was considered a three-star prospect and picked Santa Clara over the likes of Boston College, Clemson, Georgetown, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Stanford, Virginia and Virginia Tech.

Wertz decided to leave Santa Clara after two years based on two factors — style of play and overall fit. With some of his mother’s family 40 miles away in Oakland, he had no problem going so far away for school. Playing for former North Carolina State coach Herb Sendek just didn’t work out, so he sought a change.

“It was just finding the best style of play for me,” he said.

Wertz will have two years of eligibility remaining after sitting out 2020-21. He’s the second guard in as many seasons to transfer to Notre Dame from a West Coast school. Last summer, the Irish added former Stanford guard Cormac Ryan, who sat out 2019-20 and is expected to step into a starting role in 2020-21. Ryan has three years of eligibility remaining.

Notre Dame has added at least one transfer in three of the last four offseasons. The Irish roster now carries 11 scholarship players heading into 2020-21. The Irish have added two players in the past week with Wertz and high school senior Tony Sanders from Miami. Like Wertz, Sanders committed to Notre Dame after having never set foot on campus.

Notre Dame still has two additional scholarships to use on traditional or graduate transfers. Brey said Notre Dame will continue to explore potential transfers.

Wertz will be the ninth transfer to play for Brey during his 20-plus seasons at Notre Dame. He’ll get the chance to do it playing in a league — the Atlantic Coast Conference — he grew up watching from home. That’s big.

“It means a lot,” he said. “It’s always been a dream of mine. To come back and play schools in my area will be fun, for sure.”

Former Santa Clara guard Trey Wertz committed Saturday afternoon to play for Notre Dame.