Blue and Gold Illustrated

March 2021

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

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76 MARCH 2021 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED WOMEN'S BASKETBALL BY LOU SOMOGYI T here are miles to travel yet for the Notre Dame women's bas- ketball team to return to the su- perpower level it enjoyed from 2011-19 before crashing to 13-18 last year. A major step to that long journey was adding Miles — as in 5-10 early entrant point guard Olivia Miles — to the roster in January. Ranked the nation's No. 2 prospect by Prep Girls Hoops, No. 4 by Pros- pects Nation and No. 8 (and the No. 2 point guard) by ESPN HoopGurlz, Miles opted to enroll at Notre Dame this January while her senior season at prominent New Jersey boarding school Blair Academy was postponed amid the COVID-19 pandemic. After a full week of quarantine, she was cleared to begin practice Jan. 25 for first-year head coach Niele Ivey's squad and made her debut off the bench Jan. 31 in the 81-69 loss at Syracuse in which the Irish were outscored 23-4 in the fourth quarter. Miles played 14 minutes, convert- ing 2 of 6 shots from the floor (0 of 2 from three), handing out a couple of assists, recording three steals and also committing three turnovers. The moment did not appear too big for her, and she demonstrated confidence in breaking the press and whipping sharp passes to teammates. In the next game, a 71-65 defeat at No. 1 Louisville on Feb. 7, her time was limited again to 14:35 while ad- justing to the college game and its conditioning, and this time she con- verted 5 of 8 attempts for 10 points, highlighted by three drives for lay- ups in a span of 1:24 to cut the Irish deficit to 52-50. "She's a program changer," Ivey said. "When you see her, when she steps on the floor, she has that 'it' factor. I think she has the same tools as Skylar [Diggins] in knowing how to get people the ball when they need to get the ball. "Skylar was more of a scoring point guard. Olivia is a true point guard. She can score, but she actually enjoys dishing, she likes to get her teammates shots before she likes to give herself shots. "Their competitive drive is very similar. She's her own person. I can't compare her to anybody because I don't think we've ever seen a point guard [at Notre Dame] that can do the things she can do. "She's got a flash in her game, she's great in transition, and she's got vi- sion that we've probably never seen in this program." IDEAL MATCH A superb student, the 5-10 Miles looks just as studious on the court with her prescription goggles be- cause of her aversion to contact lenses. Miles' second-semester classes that began Feb. 3 at Notre Dame included typical freshman pre- requisite courses, plus Calculus and psychology. She plans to major in either science or business. Ivey first saw Miles play in the eighth grade and has recruited her since her freshman season in high school. A confident speaker, Miles said she always has had an affinity for Notre Dame and a unique bond with Ivey. The day Ivey was hired last spring to succeed Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame member and mentor Muffet McGraw, she spoke with Miles, who committed on the spot. Her connection with Ivey goes beyond the basketball court. Miles' parents are both engineers, with her father in the software industry and her mother a chemical engineer at Eli Lilly. Even in high school, she al- ready has been on podcasts with is- sues centering on social justice. "Niele and I have been talking about this for a while, about ways we can spread awareness and do any- thing we can to make people more aware," Miles said. "It made so much sense to put myself in this spot where I can be mentored and learn from such an amazing player and coach. "When I'm more comfortable around my team and I start to know more people, we can start working together to make a change and use all of our platforms to spread this awareness." AWARE OF 'THE BRAND' From an early age, Miles learned from her parents how to think as an adult. "They were always on me about No. 1 staying humble and No. 2 be- ing aware of your brand, yourself, and your image and your name — it carries everything along with you," The Miles Marker Early enrollee point guard Olivia Miles is projected to be a 'program changer' Miles was rated as the No. 4 player in the class of 2021 by Prospects Nation. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS

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