Mike Brey drives prospect to Notre Dame in style - in a Ferrari

Tom Noie
ND Insider

When your run-of-the-mill, ho-hum, standard sport utility vehicle just won't do, it's time to improvise and find something better.

Something stylish. Something sleek. Something that attracts a whole lot of attention and leaves an impression.

Notre Dame coach Mike Brey did all that Thursday evening. So much for his reputation as the loosest coach in America. How about the fastest?

Ditching his usual vehicle – a Buick Enclave – Brey decided to go in style out to LaLumiere School in nearby LaPorte to pick up combo guard JJ Starling, ranked among the nation's top 35 college prospects, for the start of his official campus visit.

Brey arrived at LaLumiere, about 30 minutes from the Notre Dame campus, in a red Ferrari. He then picked up Starling and drove back to South Bend for the start of his 48-hour visit.

Video of Brey leaving from the LaLumiere gymnasium parking lot was texted to the Tribune late Thursday (see clip). Two sources close to the Notre Dame men's basketball program confirmed Friday morning that it indeed was Brey behind the wheel of the Ferrari, which he also pulled up to Rolfs Athletics Hall, the team's practice facility, upon arrival from LaLumiere.

Noie:Longtime assistant Rod Balanis leaves ND

NCAA rules allow college coaches to transport prospects back to campus if their respective high schools fall within a certain range from the school. Under NCAA recruiting regulations, Brey cannot publicly comment on Starling or acknowledge the player's presence on campus.

A 6-foot-4, 180-pound combo guard from Baldwinsville, N.Y., Starling averaged 14.9 points and 1.9 assists in 31 minutes per game last season for the Lakers. In three previous years at Baker High in Central New York, Starling averaged 28.6 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game.

This is the first of four official college visits for Starling. He also will tour Syracuse (Sept. 10-12), Northwestern (Sept. 17-19) and Duke (Sept. 24-26).

Considered a four-star prospect, Starling is the third LaLumiere player/college prospect to take an official visit at Notre Dame.

Each time, with guards Jalen Coleman-Lands or former Marian High School standout Jaden Ivey, Brey has gone to LaLumiere to pick up the player.

A fourth LaLu player, former power forward Isaiah Stewart, visited Notre Dame in an unofficial capacity. LaLumiere is coached by Pat Holmes, a Notre Dame graduate and former student manager for the Irish men's basketball team during Brey's tenure.

None of the three former LaLu standouts eventually signed with the Irish.

Guard JJ Starling of LaLumiere School is on the Notre Dame campus this weekend for an official visit.

The start of Starling's official visit – he's twice toured campus in the spring and summer in an unofficial capacity – opened the start of visit season for Notre Dame basketball. Later Friday, power forward Elijah Saunders was expected to arrive from Phoenix.

No word on how Saunders would get from the airport to campus.

Notre Dame currently has one verbal commitment from a high school senior. In late July, the Irish received a pledge from Dominic Campbell, a 6-8, 235-pound power forward from Exeter (N.H.) Phillips Academy. Campbell played for the same AAU team – Middlesex (Mass.) Magic – as current Irish guard Cormac Ryan and former Irish swingman Pat Connaughton.

Exactly how many scholarships Notre Dame can offer this recruiting cycle remains to be determined. Seven Irish are scheduled to graduate next spring, but six of the seven retain at least one year of college eligibility.

Follow South Bend Tribune and NDInsider columnist Tom Noie on Twitter: @tnoieNDI