Will Notre Dame's top prospect - guard J.J. Starling - choose Irish on Tuesday?

Tom Noie
ND Insider

He made two unofficial visits to campus over the summer, and liked enough about those tours to add an official one last month, which included a ride around town in a red Ferrari.

Mike Brey arrives at Rolfs Hall in a Ferrari

There isn't much left for LaLumiere (Ind.) School senior guard J.J. Starling to do when it comes to one day playing for the Notre Dame men's basketball program.

Except offer a verbal commitment, which could be coming by afternoon's end.

The 6-foot-5, 195-pound Starling, atop the Irish recruiting wish list, is reportedly set to make his college choice official at 5 p.m. Eastern time Tuesday. A consensus four-star and Top 40 prospect, Starling will choose between Duke, Notre Dame, Maryland, Northwestern, Stanford and Syracuse.

How much of a priority is Starling for Notre Dame? On the first day of the fall evaluation period last month, when coaches could go on the road and recruit in person, Brey and his entire staff – associate coach Anthony Solomon and assistant coaches Ryan Humphrey and Antoni Wyche – went to LaLu for Starling. 

He is Priority One for Notre Dame in this recruiting cycle. 

Starling would be a massive get for the Irish, and for Brey, often criticized for not getting the type of talent he'd be getting in Starling.

With current lead guard/senior captain Prentiss Hubb set to graduate in the spring – and his additional year of eligibility plans for 2022-23 unknown - Notre Dame needs someone to step into his spot immediately next season. Starling may be just the guy. 

A native of Baldwinsville, New York who's set to start his second season at LaLu, Starling is ranked the nation’s No. 27 prospect by ESPN, No. 33 by 24/7Sports and No. 40 by Rivals. All three recruiting services rank him a four-star prospect. 

Starling is coached at LaLu by Patrick Holmes, a Notre Dame graduate and former student manager under Brey. 

Starling visited Notre Dame over Labor Day Weekend, when he was picked up by Brey at LaLu in a red Ferrari. Starling eventually also took official visits to Syracuse and Duke. He canceled a scheduled official visit to Northwestern. He also took an official visit over the summer to Maryland. 

Notre Dame was among the first schools to contact Starling under NCAA recruiting regulations back in June 2020. Syracuse, the school closest to his hometown, first learned of Starling’s basketball skills when he was in third grade. 

Mike Brey likes the way he shuffled his staff for the 2021-22 season, a shuffle that had to happen after Notre Dame went 11-15 last year.

As a junior at LaLu, Starling averaged 14.9 points and 1.9 assists per game. The previous year at Baker High School in Central New York, he averaged 28.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists. 

Starling has at least 17 scholarship offers – most from high-major schools.  

Starling played AAU basketball for the City Rocks program out of Albany, New York. 

He would be a huge addition to a rather thin Irish recruiting class. In July, 6-8, 235-pound power forward Dominick Campbell from Exeter (N.H.) Phillips Academy committed to Notre Dame. How the rest of this recruiting class shakes out is anyone’s guess – including Brey’s. 

Notre Dame’s roster this season carries six seniors and one graduate student, all of whom are on track to earn degrees in the spring. Six of the seven have a chance to return with eligibility next season if they’d like, including Hubb, a three-year starter at point guard. 

Who returns? Who doesn’t? 

“I have no idea,” Brey admitted earlier this month. “My assistants go, ‘How many scholarships we have?’ I have no idea, but let’s sign a couple guys. 

“I’ll figure that out on the back end.” 

In the meantime, Brey might be in line to receive some really good news – some needed good recruiting news – on the front end. 

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