WOMEN'S BASKETBALL

Notre Dame recruit Nat Marshall finds improving her game fashionable

Eric Hansen
South Bend Tribune

She has dabbled in fashion modeling and hopes to do more of it, but Nat Marshall’s most-immediate goal has nothing to do with walking down the runway and everything to do with figuratively taking off from one.

“I’d like to be able to dunk by the end of the summer,” said the 6-foot-5 junior forward at New York City perennial basketball power Christ the King High School and the latest addition to perennial women’s college basketball power Notre Dame.

The nation’s No. 12 player overall in the 2020 class, per espnW Hoopgurlz, verbally committed to the Irish on Wednesday, joining 5-11 Altoona, Pa., point guard Alli Campbell as players pledged to sign with ND in November.

“My very first call after telling coach (Muffet) McGraw I was committing was to Alli,” Marshall said. “We’ve been talking about Notre Dame a lot the past few months. She was pretty happy.”

NCAA rules prohibit McGraw from expressing her happiness publicly when it comes to unsigned recruits. But it’s safe to assume she’s elated that Marshall also has on her offseason to-do list working on what she perceives as the holes in her game — 3-point shooting, physical strength and better ball-handling.

“She’s a pretty smooth interior player, who can run the floor,” assessed analyst Dan Olson of Collegiate Girls Basketball Report and who formulates the espnW Hoopgurlz rankings. “She’s got some versatility defensively. She can get away from the block play and get out and guard people.

“She’s got a face-up game and a feathery touch in the paint. I think she’ll be a really tough matchup as she goes into her high school final year and then her college career, because that physicality part of her game will catch up.”

As it stands Marshall averaged 13.4 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.1 blocks a game this past season on a balanced Christ the King team that went 26-4 and won its 16th New York Federation state title last month and first since 2010.

Lamar Odom is among the former CTK men’s basketball standouts in the school’s rich history, while former UConn All-Americans Sue Bird and Tina Charles and former Tennessee stat Chamique Holdsclaw helped build and maintain the West Village (Queens) school’s hoops tradition on the girls side.

“I’ve got to meet Sue Bird a few times and was just up at the WNBA Draft, so I got to hang out with her there,” Marshall said. “Tina comes to our games all the time. So it’s kind of awesome to be able to speak to players who have gone through this and have done some amazing things.”

As passionate as Marshall is about basketball now, it was kind of a last resort for her as far as sports were concerned. Her dad, a soccer player during his college days at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and her mom, a track-and-field athlete at UWM, introduced her to swimming, baseball, soccer and gymnastics.

“None of them clicked,” said Marshall, who was born Natalija but prefers Nat. “Then basketball, the last one I tried, just did. I was probably leaning toward the arts, because I wasn’t finding a sport that stood out for me.

“But I was lucky to find basketball, and I think everything happens for a reason. It’s taken me to some amazing things.”

This past weekend it took her to Notre Dame for her official recruiting visit. There, she got to reunite with two players she played against in high school and on the club circuit, current Irish players Danielle Patterson and Jordan Nixon, former teammates at The Mary Louis Academy in Queens.

“Notre Dame has always been one of my dream schools,” said Marshall, who picked the Irish over UConn, Stanford, Duke and UCLA among others. “Going into the official visit, I knew that my love for it would grow.

“And when I left campus, it just felt like home. At that moment there was no doubt in my mind that that’s where I belong.”

Nat Marshall of Christ the King High School in Middle Village, N.Y., has verbally committed to Notre Dame as a 2020 recruit.
Nat Marshall of Christ the King High School in Middle Village, N.Y., (left) has verbally committed to Notre Dame as a 2020 recruit.