Niele Ivey strikes fast on recruiting trail, lands nation's No. 2 prospect Miles for Notre Dame

Anthony Anderson | Tribune Correspondent
ND Insider

Ascant two days after landing the Notre Dame women’s basketball head coaching job, Niele Ivey has landed the nation’s No. 2 prospect.

Olivia Miles, while not immediately available for comment, has retweeted tweets from several accounts reporting that she has committed to the Irish.

The 5-foot-10 guard from Phillipsburg, N.J., is ranked No. 2 nationally among all players in the 2021 recruiting class and No. 1 among point guards by ESPN. She also stands No. 4 on the Prospects Nation list among all players and No. 1 among point guards.

“She’s an electric player,” recruiting analyst Dan Olson said by phone Friday afternoon from Pennsylvania. “Calm under pressure, a poised guard who’s really cerebral in her approach.”

Olson prepares ESPN’s ongoing player rankings. He has seen Miles play in more than a half-dozen events, the most recent a national gathering in February.

“I don’t want to undersell her ability to score, because she can really score,” Olson said, “but she’s just an unselfish player with that pass-first mentality who takes real joy in one of those pinpoint passes through traffic.

“She has a very silky offensive game. Her jumper is almost effortless, and she’s got a teardrop floater that she’s pretty good at.”

In a January ESPN.com feature about Miles, author John Weinfuss described her as having “Sue Bird-like vision, Steve Nash-like smoothness and a Diana Taurasi-like ability to bully fellow guards with her size.”

That same story detailed Miles’ love for playing high school soccer as a way to take a break from basketball for a couple months each year, rather than burning out.

Former Notre Dame star Arike Ogunbowale was an accomplished soccer player as a youth before focusing solely on basketball, while point guard Marta Sniezek from this past season’s team starred on the pitch all the way through high school.

Olson described Miles as the type of player who “will be a good selling point” for Notre Dame to other recruits “if they need it, not that they need it.”

He speculated that the Irish won’t miss a beat on the recruiting trail in the transition from Hall of Famer Muffet McGraw, who retired Wednesday after 33 years at ND.

“Notre Dame’s got a tremendous product to sell, and they’ve usually got someone’s attention out of the gate, even if they’re coming in late,” Olson said. “It speaks volumes to have them interested, and that’s a seasoned staff they have that knows the lay of the land.”

Ivey was an Irish assistant coach for 12 years and also held the title of recruiting coordinator before leaving to become an assistant with the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies last August.

“She’s kind of a breath of fresh air,” Olson said. “She’s a knowledgeable coach, and I think she’ll be phenomenal when (the pandemic ends and) she’s able to get into people’s houses.”

Miles plays high school ball for Blair Academy in Blairstown, N.J.

She was a member of the USA Basketball U16 national team in 2019 that won the gold medal at the FIBA Americas U16 Championship in Chile. Starting each game, Miles averaged 5.2 points and 7.5 assists while helping the United States to a 6-0 record.

At Blair, she averaged 13.6 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.6 assists as a junior this past season. Over her freshman and sophomore seasons, Miles averaged 14.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.8 assists, earning first-team all-state honors both years and helping her team go 21-4 with a second-place state tournament finish as a freshman.

Just one Notre Dame player, Destinee Walker, is scheduled to exhaust her eligibility after next season, but the Irish do have room to make further additions in 2021 if they choose.

Including the five players in its 2020 recruiting class that collectively is ranked No. 3 by ESPN, Notre Dame will potentially have 11 returning scholarship players after next season, but the NCAA allows for as many as 15 scholarships.

Miles, if she signs early, will do so during the Nov. 11-18 period.

Other schools she was reported to be considering included Connecticut, North Carolina, Oregon, Stanford and Princeton.

Just six of the top 25 players in Olson’s 2021 rankings have committed so far, according to ESPN. Miles is the highest-rated among them. Stanford has a commitment from No. 4 player, UConn from the Nos. 5 and 17 players, Louisville from No. 8, and Oregon State from No. 12.

College coaches cannot comment publicly on recruits until they sign.

Blair Academy women’s basketball standout Olivia Miles (5) verbally committed to Notre Dame on Friday.