Having already landed one guard in its 2016 recruiting class in talented point guard T.J. Gibbs, Notre Dame landed a second Wednesday night. 6-foot-6 guard Nikola Djogo, who attends Athlete Institute/Orangeville Prep in Canada, announced via Twitter that he will play his college basketball for Mike Brey.
Djogo joins Gibbs and forward John Mooney in Notre Dame’s 2016 recruiting class at this point in time.
This fall the left-handed Djogo will play for an Orangeville Prep program that last year had Kentucky freshman Jamal Murray and 2016 five-star forward Thon Maker on its roster. Djogo was a member of Canada’s U17 national team in the summer of 2014, playing in a reserve role at the FIBA U17 World Championships, and he finished with averages of 4.2 points and 2.7 rebounds per game.
Djogo has the versatility to play multiple positions on the perimeter (likely the two or three at Notre Dame given the presence of Gibbs), which should mesh well with what Notre Dame likes to do offensively in having multiple guards capable of making plays. The Fighting Irish don’t have a senior in their current backcourt, with Demetrius Jackson and Steve Vasturia both being juniors.
But in the case of Jackson, who’s projected by Draft Express to be a first round pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, it doesn’t hurt to add some depth with an eye towards the possibility of this being his final season in South Bend.
Notre Dame lands four-star 2016 point guard Temple Gibbs Jr.
With Jerian Grant out of eligibility and Demetrius Jackson due to be a junior next season, adding a point guard in the Class of 2016 would help Notre Dame moving forward. Sunday night head coach Mike Brey and his staff received a commitment from four-star point guard Temple Gibbs Jr., who is the first commit in the 2016 class for the Fighting Irish.
Gibbs will be the third family member to play Division I college basketball when he arrives in South Bend in 2016. The oldest brother, Ashton, played four seasons at Pittsburgh and middle brother Sterling is looking for a school to complete his college career at after playing one season at Texas and two at Seton Hall.
Like those two, 6-foot-3 Temple attends Seton Hall Prep in West Orange, New Jersey and was a key target for a number of high-major programs. Among those programs were Oklahoma, Iowa, UConn, St. John’s, Providence, Georgetown and Virginia. But it’s Notre Dame, which hosted Gibbs on a visit this past weekend, that did what it needed to do to land Gibbs.
And given the point guard position for them moving forward, this is an important development for the Fighting Irish.
With Jackson expected to lead the way offensively for a team that lost both Grant and Pat Connaughton from last season’s ACC champion team (they also reached the Elite Eight), a big year for him in 2015-16 could leave Notre Dame with an even greater need at the point. 6-foot-1 Matt Farrell will have eligibility remaining, as he’ll be a sophomore next season. But landing a player in Gibbs who can both score and distribute the basketball gives Notre Dame some much-needed depth at the position.
Gibbs averaged 19.9 points, four rebounds and 3.2 assists per game as a junior, earning second team all-state honors from NJ.com. He plays his grassroots basketball for the Playaz Basketball Club, and in Nike EYBL play Gibbs is averaging 13.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists per contest.
No. 3 Notre Dame knocks off No. 7 Wichita State to get to the Elite 8
For the first time since 1979, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are headed to the Elite 8.
And man, did they make a statement along the way.
With 16:41 left in the game, No. 7 Wichita State completed their comeback from an early 13-point deficit, using a 6-0 spurt to take a 38-37 lead, their first of the game. It would also be their last lead of the game, as No. 3 Notre Dame hit eight straight shots and 15 of their next 17 field goals as they went on a game-winning 38-16 run over the course of the next 12 minutes.
“We got going a little bit,” head coach Mike Brey said in his postgame interview on CBS. “We guarded to get out of here, and then we got into one of those offensive rhythms.”
Demetrius Jackson was terrific for the Irish, finishing with 20 points and three assists, while Pat Connaughton added 16 points and 10 boards, but the real star of the night was Jerian Grant, who made the evisceration of a good Shocker defense seem effortless.
Grant had nine points and 11 assists while committing just two turnovers, putting on a clinic in how to run the pick-and-roll. Wichita State put Tekele Cotton on Grant, and he actually did a pretty good job in limiting the first-team all-american’s ability to score. But what the Irish do offensively is to spread the floor with shooters, which created quite a bit of space for center Zach Auguste rolling to the rim; Auguste was 6-for-6 from the floor and had 15 points. When Wichita State’s defense slid over to help, Grant picked out those shooters, as the Irish went 9-for-19 from beyond the arc.
The question that everyone is going to ask after seeing Notre Dame put on this kind of offensive clinic is whether or not the Irish can get to the Final Four, a path that, you would assume, runs through No. 1 Kentucky. The conversation is going to be dominated by talk of whether or not the Irish can actually get that win, but for now, it may be moot.
At least to Notre Dame.
Brey is a terrific basketball coach, a guy that has won more than 400 career games in his 15 seasons at Notre Dame, but his relative lack of tournament success has left him the butt of jokes. This is Brey’s first trip to the Elite 8, and it was only the second time at Notre Dame that he even reached the second weekend, the first since 2003. And given what he’s been through this week, with his mother passing away the day of Notre Dame’s win over No. 6 Butler, what choice does Brey have beyond living in the moment.
Frankly, I don’t think who they play matters to Brey, who, according to reporters in Cleveland, walked into the press room early and, when told he could wait for his turn at the podium in a back room, asked, “Is there a bar in it?”
He’s not worried about who he plays. He’s just happy to be playing another game.
As he told CBS after the game, “see you Saturday, baby.”