Maddy Westbeld follows sister's path, commits to Notre Dame women's basketball

Anthony Anderson
Tribune Correspodent

SOUTH BEND — Maddy Westbeld doesn’t mind the comparisons to her sister.

She just doesn’t think they’re all that accurate — at least on the court.

Off the court, that’s another story, one that brings a mischievous giggle from Notre Dame’s latest women’s basketball commit.

“Even our mom gets us mixed up from the back side,” Maddy said Monday afternoon of herself and Kathryn Westbeld, who was a senior starter on ND’s 2018 national title team.

Others get the siblings mixed up even from the front side.

“It’s kind of fun to mess with people on that,” Maddy Westbeld said. “I remember a couple years ago, we were at a restaurant in South Bend and people were coming up to me and saying, ‘Good game,’ and I was like, ‘Oh, thank you.’

“I don’t mind at all,” Westbeld continued. “She’s my best friend.”

Both Westbelds are 6-foot-2 forwards from Kettering, Ohio.

Maddy (ranked No. 23 by ESPN in the high school class of 2020, No. 27 by Prospects Nation) even owns ratings that are similar to the ones Kathryn held (No. 21 and No. 33) in 2014.

That doesn’t mean the players are similar in style, though.

“A lot of people say we’re about the same, and a lot say we’re very different, and I agree with very different,” Maddy said. “She’s more of a bruiser-type player and I’m more finesse. I think her game is inside-out, and mine is more outside-in. I can go in, and she can go out, but I like the pull-up (3-pointer), which wasn’t really her.”

Maddy Westbeld announced her commitment to ND late Sunday night on Twitter.

“I am just so beyond proud of you @maddy_westbeld !!!,” her sister responded a short time later in a tweet. “These Irish fans are in for a SHOW starting in 2020.”

Kathryn — a fan favorite who averaged 8.0 points and 5.2 rebounds in 23.7 minutes per game while shooting 56.8 percent from the field over three seasons as a Notre Dame starter — is now playing professionally for a Puerto Rican league team about to begin its best-of-7 finals.

Maddy is about to begin her senior season at Fairmont High in Kettering, the same school where Kathryn starred.

She selected the Irish over fellow final-five choices Louisville, Ohio State, Tennessee and UCLA.

“It came down to a lot of things,” said Maddy, who is considering a major in business, “but what was important on the basketball side was having the opportunity to win a championship and becoming the best player I can, and Notre Dame has definitely proven they can help with that, and then there’s the academics. All-around, Notre Dame is just awesome.”

Westbeld is accustomed already to rooting for the Irish by virtue of rooting for her sister.

“In the regular season, I couldn’t be at her games much because I had my own season, but there wasn’t a game on TV that I missed,” Maddy said, “and then I was able to go to most of her games each year in the NCAA Tournament.”

That includes the 2018 Final Four in the siblings’ home state of Ohio, specifically Columbus, where Kathryn helped ND capture its most recent title.

Maddy Westbeld brings to four the number of 2020 recruits who have announced their intentions to join coach Muffet McGraw’s Irish.

She was preceded by guard Alli Campbell (No. 25 by ESPN, No. 21 by Prospects Nation), who committed more than a year ago, forward Nat Marshall (No. 32, No. 19), who declared in April, and guard Alasia Hayes (No. 44, No. 130), who announced three weeks ago.

Notre Dame remains one of three finalists for highly coveted Caitlin Clark (No. 4, No. 7). The guard from Dowling Catholic High in West Des Moines, Iowa, has named Iowa and Iowa State as her other finalists.

Clark, Westbeld, Campbell and Marshall all participated in visits to Notre Dame the weekend of Oct. 12. Hayes visited two weekends earlier.

“I knew the other girls prior to the visit, but it was definitely a chance to get closer,” Westbeld said. “The chemistry was definitely there. Caitlin and I were the only ones who weren’t already committed. I haven’t talked to her since, but I think we all had a good time.”

A starter since her freshman year at Fairmont, Westbeld averaged 15.9 points and 10.4 rebounds for a 16-9 team as a junior, following averages of 11.3 and 11.1 as a sophomore for a 17-9 club.

Dan Olson, who prepares ESPN’s top-100 player rankings, watched Westbeld in U.S. junior nationals competition in July.

“Skilled front-court prospect, manufactures shots with deceptive quickness off the dribble, physical to the rim, finishes plays to the rim,” Olson wrote at the time. “Rises on jumpers in mid-range game to the arc; agile in uptempo game; an elite front-court jump shooter and a stock-riser in the class of 2020.”

The fourth of Jim and Susan Westbeld’s five children — younger brother Ben, 13, is also a basketball player and the lone lefty — Maddy says that with her commitment out of the way she’s eager to focus on her senior season with the Firebirds.

“There’s four of us in my class who have all been together since we were freshmen and all played a lot of varsity minutes,” Westbeld said. “We’ve had three head coaches, so everyone involved, we want to make this a special year.”

Jeremey Finn took over as head coach prior to last season. He followed Kyle Boze, who was tabbed in 2018 and led summer workouts, but resigned before the season due to health reasons. Lacy Drake resigned earlier in 2018 after five years.

Once she joins the Irish, Westbeld will continue a trend of sisters involved in the program over the last several seasons.

Michaela Mabrey, a first-year Notre Dame assistant, played for ND from 2012 to 2016, while sister Marina played from 2015 through this past season. Sophomore twins Cate and Maggie Murdock are currently first-year walk-ons.

Maddy Westbeld of Kettering (Ohio) Fairmont High School is the fourth recruit to commit to the 2020 Notre Dame women’s basketball class.