Secret no more - guard Jackie Young offers ND verbal commitment

Tom Noie
South Bend Tribune

Having kept a secret since early July without telling a soul — OK, maybe she did tell someone — one of the top girls basketball players in the junior class decided that Thursday evening was a good time to let everyone else in on it.

Jackie Young is going to college at Notre Dame.

Rated among the top 20 juniors in the nation, Young committed to Notre Dame over the likes of Butler, Connecticut, Indiana, Purdue, Tennessee and UCLA. The 5-foot-11 guard from Princeton (Ind.) High School averaged 29.3 points, 11.7 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 3.2 steals while carrying a 4.0 GPA during her sophomore season.

“I knew I wanted to go to Notre Dame in July, but I kept it to myself,” Young said by cell phone after attending her sister’s volleyball match. “I didn’t want to wait any longer.”

A five-star prospect, Young was in Atlanta driving to an AAU tournament when she realized that her recruiting, which included plenty of perennial powers, was essentially over. Coaches could still call, would still visit, would still try to get her on their campus for an official visit, but there was no place that would be better than Notre Dame.

That was no secret.

“I knew the first time I set foot on campus that’s where I’d go,” said Young, who visited as a sophomore, played pick-up with members of the team and attended an Irish football game. “I loved it there. I love how they play.”

Young revealed her college plans this summer only to her best friend, who, as best friends tend to do, kept the secret safe until Young let everyone else in on it Thursday.

“I talked to her about it and knew she wasn’t going to tell anyone,” Young said. “When people asked me where I wanted to go to school, I’d say I didn’t know, but I knew.

“I wanted to go to Notre Dame.”

She called Irish coach Muffet McGraw at 6:10 p.m.

Young wanted to wait until all of her in-home visits had ended before making everything official. Over the past couple of weeks she had visits from coaches from seven schools, including Connecticut, and Purdue. Boilermakers coach Sharon Versyp, a Mishawaka native, was the first to offer a scholarship when Young was in eighth grade.

Notre Dame also visited.

When UCLA left as the last school to visit her home in southwestern Indiana, Young was ready to end it.

Under NCAA recruiting regulations, McGraw cannot publicly comment on Young until she signs her national letter-of-intent in November 2015.

Young joins a 2016 recruiting class that already includes a fellow top 20 prospect in Erin Boley, a 6-2 guard/forward from Elizabethtown, Ky. Boley, who averaged 20.3 points and 9.4 rebounds as a sophomore, committed to Notre Dame last month.

“It gives Notre Dame a really good inside-outside punch,” said Collegiate Basketball Report recruiting analyst Dan Olson, who has Boley ranked No. 9 and Young No. 16 for espnW’s HoopGurlz.

Olson has Notre Dame’s 2016 recruiting class ranked second in the nation behind Maryland. Olson has watched/studied/evaluated Young plenty over the past year-plus. It didn’t take him long to see that she was an elite talent. Asked to compare her game to somebody in today’s college game, Olson didn’t have to stray from the current Irish roster.

The way Young works off the dribble, gets into the lane and finishes or gets to the foul line reminds Olson a whole lot of current Irish junior standout Jewell Loyd.

“She really delivers,” Olson said of Young. “Jewell can shoot the ball with deeper range, but Young can finish in the lane and deliver at the free-throw line. She just gets there.”

Young admitted that one aspect of her game that needs work — and there’s still two more years to fine-tune it — is her outside shot. She can shoot a high percentage from 15 feet and in, but if she steps out toward the 3-point line, those percentages dip.

That, she said, will change.

“I need to work on my 3-point shot,” she said. “But it’s getting a lot better.”

Young worked plenty this summer on her handling skills but believes she’ll be more of a shooting guard who can pitch in in a pitch at the point than someone who will have the ball in her hands for extended stretches.

“I’ll do everything I can to win,” she said.

Notre Dame has commitments from two high schools seniors – Ali Patberg (Columbus, Ind.) and Marina Mabrey (Point Pleasant Beach, N.J.) — expected to sign their letters-of-intent next month.

Both, like Boley and Young, are five-star prospects.

Princeton Community guard Jackie Young drives to the hoop during the Lady Tigers' 56-24 home win over Mount Vernon. Young committed Thursday to Notre Dame.Princeton (Ind.) Daily Clarion/MICHAEL CATERINA