Ivey's plans for Notre Dame women's basketball spurred Citron to commit

Mike Dougherty
Rockland/Westchester Journal News

After reaching a point where nothing was going to change her mind, Sonia Citron ended the suspense this weekend and issued a verbal commitment to continue her basketball career at Notre Dame.

The junior at Ursuline High School in New Rochelle, N.Y., had more than 30 offers from an enviable list of schools.

“It felt like the right decision, so I didn’t want to wait anymore,” said Citron, who shared the news Sunday evening via Twitter. “Other than everything Notre Dame has to offer in terms of education and tradition, it came down to Coach (Niele) Ivey and hearing what she has planned for the program. I’m just really excited to be part of it now.”

The coronavirus pandemic canceled plans to make official campus visits, but she did make a string of unofficial stops last summer.

Notre Dame was on that short list of schools.

Ivey first reached out to Citron two years ago before she left the Irish bench to work for the Memphis Grizzlies. The longtime assistant took over when Muffet McGraw retired last week after 33 years at Notre Dame.

“The recruiting process was a good experience,” Citron said. “There can be a little stress because you want to develop a relationship with the people who might be coaching you in college. I found the right place and it seemed like the right time, so I didn’t feel any pressure and I’m happy to say that.

“I feel so relieved. Now that I know where I’m going to college, I can focus on other things like getting better and getting ready for next season.”

Koalas coach Beth Wooters offered her congratulations from a safe distance on Sunday with a Notre Dame pullover in hand.

“We had a couple of different options in the car,” said Wooters, who drove to Citron’s house in Scarsdale, N.Y., with her son, Luke, a former Ursuline assistant. “I knew she was committing, but I didn’t know where. I got a text she was going to commit so Luke and I drove over and honked in front of her house. I feel bad. She’s not able to be with her friends. It’s such an exciting time and she didn’t have anybody to share it with.”

The decision came down to Stanford and Notre Dame. Citron also had Duke, North Carolina and Michigan on her short list. The 6-foot-1 guard averaged 23.8 points, 10.6 rebounds, 4.3 steals and 3.1 assists per game last season. Citron led the Koalas to a Section 1 title before the pandemic forced the New York State Public High School Athletic Association to cancel the remainder of the state tournament.

She picked up a string of postseason honors, including Gatorade New York Player of the Year, Section 1 Girls Basketball Coaches Association Player of the Year and Journal News Player of the Year.

Citron is the second Top 20 recruit to commit since Ivey took over.

Her teammate on the USA U-16 team that won the 2019 FIBA Americas Championship, Olivia Miles, gave a verbal commitment on Friday.

“I’m actually really, really good friends with her,” said Citron, who is ranked 16th in the Class of 2021 by ESPN. “Before we were on the USA team, we played together in a few summer tournaments. We didn’t really talk a lot, but we got closer playing last summer and really wanted to play together. It’s something we talked about quite a bit.”

The first opportunity to sign a National Letter of Intent will be in November.

It remains unclear what the immediate future holds, but Citron is staying ready. She was hoping to begin tryouts for USA Basketball’s U-17 team in May, but those dates have been pushed back to July. Citron is getting shots up in the backyard, running and working out after her online classes are done each day.

“There is going to be a lot of competition at Notre Dame,” she added. “They have so many great players there already so it motivates me a lot. Nothing is going to be given to me. I’m really excited to earn my spot and be a piece of the puzzle and compete for a national championship.”

Mike Dougherty covers boys soccer, boys lacrosse, girls basketball and golf for The Journal News/lohud.com. He can be reached at mdougher@lohud.com or on Twitter @hoopsmbd, @lohudlacrosse, @lohudhoopsmbd and @lohudgolf.

Ursuline’s Sonia Citron (21) goes over Magnus defenders on the way to a basket during the girls Class AA semifinal at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, N.Y., March 5.
Ursuline’s Sonia Citron (21) during game against Putnam Valley on Jan. 28 in Putnam Valley, N.Y.