Men's Basketball: Irish were one of only 18 D-I programs without portal player

Tom Noie
ND Insider

And then, finally, there was one.

There had to be at least one, right?

The Notre Dame men's basketball team was about 48 hours out from not having a single scholarship player enter the mysterious/murky NCAA transfer portal for the second straight season. Then Friday morning happened and sophomore power forward Elijah Taylor decided that he'd be the one.

Taylor, who barely/rarely played in his first two seasons in South Bend, has entered the transfer portal. He'll have as many as four years of eligibility remaining.

Taylor is one of nearly 1,600 men's basketbalplayers in the portal. College athletes have until May 1 – Sunday – to enter the portal if they want to be immediately eligible under the new NCAA transfer guidelines to play during the 2022-23 season.

Notre Dame sophomore power forward Elijah Taylor has decided to transfer.

The 6-foot-8, 242-pound Taylor, a native of Philadelphia, selected Notre Dame out of Imhotep Charter School over Florida, Seton Hall and Virginia Commonwealth. He also had scholarship offers from Dayton, Georgia and Georgia Tech.

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What exactly is Notre Dame losing in Taylor, nobody can really say. In his two seasons, Taylor played in a total of three games. He missed his entire freshman season after undergoing surgery on his ankle after suffering an injury during his senior year of high school. A reserve power forward this past season, Taylor sat out the second semester after being ruled academically ineligible. He practiced during the week and sat on the bench in street clothes for home games, but did not travel to road games, the league tournament or NCAA tournament sites.

Taylor leaves Notre Dame having never missed a shot. In three career games, he finished four-of-four from the floor. He scored four points in six minutes in the late-November loss at Illinois. He last played in the Dec. 3 loss at Boston College, where he was assessed a technical foul after a dust-up with an Eagle player in front of the Irish bench.

Weeks later, he was gone for good because of academics, something Taylor had prided himself on in high school. When he committed to Notre Dame, he classified himself in an interview with NDI as a "nerd."

"One bad chapter does not define your story – it adds to it," Taylor tweeted in early January.

Recruited to Notre Dame by former Irish guard/assistant coach Ryan Ayers, Taylor is technically the second Irish player in the transfer portal this spring. Two weeks ago, walk-on guard Elijah Morgan announced he was entering the portal as a graduate transfer. He may also return to Notre Dame for his final two seasons.

Fridays have become news dump days for the Irish men's basketball. Two weeks ago, it was Morgan. Last week, it was senior guard Dane Goodwin, who announced he would return for a super senior season. Friday, Taylor. Next up might be senior guards Cormac Ryan and Trey Wertz, each of whom are expected to return, like Goodwin, for their super senior seasons.

Their returns, and the expected departures of senior power forward Nate Laszewski and freshman guard Blake Wesley means the Irish have 10 scholarship players on the roster for 2022-23. The current roster includes only one experienced power forward, junior-to-be Matt Zona, who was part of the same recruiting class at Taylor.

Notre Dame remains in the transfer portal market for a veteran power forward. Wright State's Grant Basile visited campus last weekend. Notre Dame is among his finalists along with Iowa State, Wisconsin and Virginia Tech.

Follow South Bend Tribune and NDInsider columnist Tom Noie on Twitter: @tnoieNDI. Contact: (574) 235-6153.