Notre Dame women's basketball: Frosh are ready to go to work

CURT RALLO South Bend Tribune
ND Insider

Notre Dame women's basketball recruit Taya Reimer is spending plenty of time in the paint lately, just not the kind Irish fans expect to see her in this season in Atlantic Coast Conference and NCAA battles.

Reimer and her mother, Brenda, have been getting their house ready for Taya's graduation open house.

With prom, finals at Hamilton Southeastern High School, graduation and painting the interior of her house for the graduation party, Reimer's life has been hectic as well as colorful. “It's been crazy,” Reimer said. “I've been really busy.”

Reimer won't be getting a break. She will spend the next week involved in the Indiana All-Star Games, and then it’s off to Notre Dame for summer school, basketball workouts and a European Tour the Irish put together when Reimer and fellow incoming freshman Lindsay Allen committed to attending summer school. Notre Dame will play three exhibition games in London, Madrid and Barcelona, and get in 10 days of practice.

“I talked to some of the other incoming freshmen, Lindsay Allen especially, because both of us had the opportunity to try out for the U-19 USA national team, and we just decided that especially our freshman year, we would come to Notre Dame early,” Reimer said. “That's such a crucial time to get adapted to the team and how everything works, and school in general. We decided it would be so important to get used to everything in the summer and take advantage of that time to ease into college life, instead of missing out on that.”

Reimer, a 6-foot-2 forward, is the No. 4 prospect in the nation according to ESPN's Hoopgurlz, and the No. 1 forward. The five-star recruit from Indianapolis chose Notre Dame over Connecticut, Duke, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Georgia and UCLA.

“Working out over the summer and playing in open gyms, going to Europe in the summer, that's going to be so important for us,” Reimer said. “The other thing is, team chemistry is probably the most important thing. That can make or break a team. I'm looking forward to coming in, working hard, learning how other people play, and doing whatever I can to help the team.”

Reimer averaged 21.5 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.4 steals and 2.2 blocks a game for Hamilton Southeastern, which finished 19-4.

She understands the challenge ahead of helping Notre Dame maintain elite status.

“Obviously, losing Skylar Diggins is a huge thing,” Reimer said. “She's arguably the best player to come through Notre Dame. But we have a lot of great pieces coming back, and our freshman class is so eager to come in and work really hard and try to keep Notre Dame at the high standard that it's been at. I'm really excited.”

Here's a quick look at the other incoming freshmen

Lindsay Allen

Allen is a 5-8 point guard from Mitchellville, Md., who led St. John's College High School to a 33-1 record. The No. 5-ranked point guard in the nation averaged 17 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals a game. She also maintained a 4.0 grade-point average. Allen, the No. 25 player in the nation overall, chose Notre Dame over Stanford, Boston College, Virginia and Syracuse.

“We were 33-1, won the conference championship (Washington Catholic Athletic Conference), which many regard as the toughest conference in the country, and we won the Bishop Walsh Invitational, it's a post-season tournament, for the third straight year,’’ said St. John’s College coach Jonathan Scribner. “We beat four of the top eight ranked teams out of New York.”

Scribner said Allen will bring more than exceptional talent to the Irish.

“The thing about Lindsay is her overwhelming consistency of effort and production,” Scribner said. “It wasn't just this year. In her whole career, she has had a knack to win. When the moment is biggest is when she makes the most plays. Some people just have that. Every single time we needed something to happen in a really big, big moment, she made it happen, every time. That's why we had such a great, great season.”

Allen will be in the running to take over the point guard position at Notre Dame, a position commanded for the last three seasons by unanimous All-American Diggins.

“I would never want to make comparisons before comparisons are earned,” Scribner said about Allen taking over at point for the Irish. “We all watched Skylar for four years, seeing her making plays against UConn that didn't involve necessarily scoring the ball, but just making plays in critical moments for Notre Dame, I couldn't help but think that Lindsay is that same kind of player. Whether Lindsay will develop anywhere near what Skylar has given to the girls game has yet to be seen, but I like her chances. She has the chance to be that kind of player.

“I think so highly of Lindsay, my answer is that she can definitely step in right away, particularly if she's not asked to carry a scoring load. If she's asked to come in and run the team and get people set up and knock down a 3 when she gets a chance, get to the basket when they're not keying on her, I think 100 percent she can step in right away. But that will be seen.”

Kristina Nelson

A 6-3 post from Buford, Ga., Nelson led Buford High School to a 24-5 record and a spot in the Elite Eight. Considered the No. 5 post in the country, Buford averaged 12 points and seven rebounds a game. She chose the Irish over Duke, Georgia, Georgia Tech, UCLA and Auburn.

“Kristina did a great job providing leadership and really dominating the paint, both offensively and defensively,” Buford coach Gene Durden said. “She had a shoulder injury last year and ended up having surgery. It took her a little bit to get back. It was a really tough season for her. Her younger brother passed away. She came through the adversity she faced and became the leader that we needed her to be. She really upped her game as the season went on.

“Kristina has a tremendous upside. I think she's only going to get better. With her injury, she couldn't play to her potential, but when she gets healthy, her best days are ahead of her.”

Diamond Thompson

Thompson transferred from Montini Catholic to Wheaton-Warrenville South for her senior season. The Lombard, Ill., native is a 6-4 post who is ranked No. 10 in the nation at her position. She chose Notre Dame over Michigan, Marquette and DePaul.

“She's a fantastic kid and a fantastic student,’’ Wheaton-Warrenville South coach Rob Kroehnke said.

Thompson needed some time to adjust to a new system but emerged as a force as the season went on to help Wheaton-Warrenville South post a 29-4 record and be just one game away from going to state. She averaged eight points and eight rebounds, and blocked 70 shots in her senior season.

“When Diamond started the season, she was scoring about six points a game,” Kroehnke said. “But in January, she was scoring 20 points in a couple of games.

“Diamond has the body and the size. She's definitely going to be a project. I went out and watched Notre Dame at Iowa City in the first round of the NCAA playoffs. They have some really nice players in the bigs that they have. The bigs are very active. Diamond is not ready for that. I'm looking forward to seeing the kind of potential she has. She has work to do, but she knows it, and she's ready to work. She's been working a lot on her own since the end of our season.”

Staff writer Curt Rallo: