Blue and Gold Illustrated

June-July 2019

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 46 of 55 JUNE/JULY 2019 47 WOMEN'S BASKETBALL ROSTER ROLES McGraw and her staff were look- ing for immediate help via the grad- uate transfer route, leading to the pick-up of Walker. She is a former McDonald's All-American and top- 20 ranked recruit who averaged dou- ble-figure scoring for the Tar Heels her first two seasons before getting sidelined the past two with her in- juries. Walker will be expected to help fill the leadership void, but not as a point guard. "She's a great three-point shooter and she's a really good defender, two things we need very, very badly," McGraw said. "I expect her to come in and be a perimeter type of guard who can defend anybody on the floor. "She's been cleared [medically] to do certain things, so she is moving in the right direction." McGraw would like to add a grad- uate transfer point guard as well be- cause the options in the frontcourt apparently have been exhausted. "They either went somewhere else or we didn't think it was a good fit," she said, also noting that the staff was looking at only graduate trans- fers because of the current urgency of the situation where they need im- mediate help. Whereas much of this past season's record-setting scoring offense relied on the high-low game with twin towers Jessica Shepard and Brianna Turner, McGraw said next year 's blueprint will feature a four-guard offense employing more four-out looks and a Princeton scheme with motion and back-door cuts. "Princeton runs better with four guards … we'll still go high-low and we'll have a guard at the high post, and that could be good too," Mc- Graw said. "If everybody could av- erage 10 points a game, that would kind of be the goal. "I don't see one person — at least not the same person every week — getting 20. It's more a team of equal opportunity." Consequently, both Brunelle and Peoples will likely be called on to help right away, Brunelle with her scoring prowess — she easily won the three-point contest at the McDon- ald's All-American Game — and Peo- ples with her versatility, especially as a rebounder that Jackie Young also possessed as a guard. Brunelle can be inserted at both the high post and in the four-out look along the three- point line. "Sam is definitely a stretch four," McGraw said of the 6-2 freshman, who has ranked among the nation's top five prospects. "I see her guard- ing the other teams' bigs and then shooting threes for us. I think she will do really well in our offense. "Anaya can guard, she can run, she can help our transition game … a great rebounder. You hate to rely on freshmen immediately because there's a little bit of a learning curve. These two are really good players. "I expect them to contribute. It's just a question of how quickly they assimilate into the team." Prohaska became the team's top re- serve guard this past season with her instant energy off the bench. Nixon, a point guard, will need to assert her- self more consistently in that role af- ter numerous setbacks this year with injuries. Meanwhile, it's also been a long rehab for Gilbert from her shoulder surgery. She joins Walker, Nixon and Peoples as guards who were former McDonald's All-Americans. "She's not cleared to shoot threes yet," McGraw said of Gilbert. "She's out shooting, but just [short] jump- ers. This summer we expect she'll be able to have contact." ✦ NATALIJA MARSHALL PROVIDES 'BIG' COMMITMENT IN 2020 After falling short with height the past two recruit- ing cycles, Notre Dame came up big April 17 when 6-4 Natalija Marshall gave a verbal commitment to the Fighting Irish shortly after her official visit during the weekend of April 13-15. From powerful Christ The King High School in Middle Village, N.Y., Marshall is rated by Prospects Nation as the No. 4 forward and No. 16 overall pros- pect in the nation. At one point she also was rated the country's No. 12 prospect by ESPN HoopGurlz, but it dropped her to No. 35 in its most recent rat- ings. Regardless, Marshall fills a major void with her size. The Fighting Irish heavily pursued top-five pros- pect Aliyah Boston last season for the post, but she signed with South Carolina. Notre Dame signed 6-4 Danielle Cosgrove in 2018, but she is more of a stretch four and three-point specialist. This past season Cosgrove converted 14 of 48 field goal at- tempts — with 35 of them coming beyond the arc. An "A" student, Marshall also seriously considered Stanford before committing to Notre Dame. Through the years, Christ The King has produced luminaries such as UConn's Sue Bird and Tina Charles, and Uni- versity of Tennessee legend Chamique Holdsclaw. Marshall is the second commit to Notre Dame in the 2020 recruiting cycle. Last fall head coach Muffet McGraw's program received a pledge from Al- toona, Pa., guard Allison Campbell, ranked No. 24 nationally by ESPN HoopGurlz and No. 26 by Prospects Nation. This spring, Campbell's 24 points (four treys) and six steals led Bellwood-Antis to its second straight Pennsylvania Class 2A championship in a 66-57 win over West Middlesex. The Irish are looking to sign at least two more in the 2020 recruiting cycle, possibly three, to replen- ish the roster. The priorities include another forward to complement Marshall and a point guard. New Jersey's 6-3 Kylee Watson would fill the former, and she will officially visit Notre Dame this June. Considered among the nation's top 20 prospects, Watson is listed No. 6 by Blue Star Basketball. Although No. 1-ranked Paige Bueckers has committed to UConn as a point guard, the Fighting Irish are in the running for Iowa's Caitlin Clark — a consensus top-10 prospect — and Texas' Deja Kelly, rated among the top 50. However, both are not planning to take official visits until the fall semester begins. Notre Dame also is pursing 6-2 wing/guard Madelyn Westbeld, ranked No. 20 by Prospects Nation and the sister of 2018 national champion captain Kathryn Westbeld. — Lou Somogyi Recent Irish pledge Natalija Marshall is ranked by Prospects Nation as the No. 4 forward and No. 16 overall prospect in the country. PHOTO COURTESY USA BASKETBALL

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