Blue and Gold Illustrated

June-July 2022

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

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BLUEGOLDONLINE.COM JUNE/JULY 2022 41 WOMEN'S BASKETBALL BY TYLER HORKA F or the second time in as many years, Notre Dame women's basketball head coach Niele Ivey saw four players depart her program via the NCAA transfer portal. That's not a very welcoming start for someone who at this time two years ago was just getting started as a collegiate head coach with the pressure of replac- ing a two-time national champion — a friend, former coach and professional mentor no less. Ivey has coached two seasons now, and almost an entire rota- tion's worth of players have plunged for the portal after both of them. How can someone coach if she doesn't have enough players to do so? It wasn't as much of an issue last year. Olivia Miles and Sonia Citron arrived in the class of 2021. Stanford graduate student Maya Dodson came in from the portal herself to give Ivey an even 10 scholarship players in 2021-22. This year? Different story. Dodson and the four outbound trans- fers — forward Sam Brunelle (Virginia), and guards Anaya Peoples (DePaul), Abby Prohaska (San Diego State) and Katlyn Gilbert (Missouri) — left Ivey with just six scholarship players includ- ing high school All-American and in- coming freshman KK Bransford. Ivey and her staff were going to have to work to get back to that number. And while they're not quite there as of mid- May, they're darn close. Notre Dame now has nine scholarship players with the additions of guard Jenna Brown from Stanford, center Lauren Ebo from Texas and forward Kylee Watson from Oregon. That trio should assuage some stress and concern about roster num- bers heading into the summer. There are still going to be questions re- garding rotations. It's not a given which one of Watson or Ebo will start at the five. Ebo has more playing experience, but Watson could have more athletic up- side. Neither have the agility and defense dominance of Dodson, though, so that will be severely missed either way. Notre Dame might not be done in the portal. Ivey has not spoken to the media since the season ended in March, but there is no doubt she's still been scouring the portal for another player to get the schol- arship count back up to double digits. Ivey took a team of eight healthy scholarship players to the Sweet 16 a few months back. Notre Dame can win with nine, but it's not a given all of them will stay healthy all season. As it is, one of those nine — junior forward Natalija Marshall — is coming off knee surgery in January. The bottom line: Work has been done, but it shouldn't be totally done. The roster has been bolstered after the most recent exits, but it can be strengthened even fur- ther. The ball is still in Ivey's court. Here's a closer look at the three new- est Irish players: JENNA BROWN • 5-10 • Guard Hometown: Atlanta High school: The Lovett School As a recruit: Five-star, No. 18 overall player in the class of 2018 per ESPN HoopGurlz and a McDon- ald's All-American Previous college: Stanford Career collegiate statistics: 1.8 points, 0.9 re- bounds, 0.9 assists and 0.1 steals per game (57 games played, one start); 35.1 percent (39 of 111) from the field; 52.4 percent (22 of 42) from the free throw line Ivey on Brown: "She is an exceptional student and is someone who will positively impact this university and our program. Jenna brings a strong work ethic and motor along with an incredible skill set and high IQ. She is a perfect addition to our strong core and, I'm looking forward to working with her and mentoring her." LAUREN EBO • 6-4 • Center Hometown: Washington, D.C. High school: Riverdale Baptist (Md.) As a recruit: Three-star and No. 17 post player in the class of 2018 per ESPN HoopGurlz Previous colleges: Penn State (2018-20) and Texas (2020-22) Career collegiate statistics: 6.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.7 blocks per game (116 games, 59 starts); 45.9 percent (277 of 604) from the field, 62.6 percent (154 of 246) from the free throw line Ivey on Ebo: "She brings a wealth of experience with deep runs in the NCAA Tournament the past two years. She is a true leader on and off the court. She's a force inside and is a perfect fit for our team and our culture." KYLEE WATSON • 6-4 • Forward Hometown: Linwood, N.J. High school: Mainland As a recruit: Five-star, No. 17 overall player in the class of 2020 per ESPN HoopGurlz and a McDon- ald's All-American Previous college: Oregon Career collegiate statistics: 3.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.5 blocks per game (50 games played, nine starts); 54.9 percent (67 of 122) from the field, 38.5 percent (25 of 65) from the free throw line Niele Ivey on Watson: "Kylee is one of the most dy- namic and versatile posts in her class. She can score at all three levels and is extremely explosive in transition, either running the floor or igniting the break. What I love about her most is her motor and toughness." ✦ Notre Dame Adds Three Players From The Transfer Portal The Fighting Irish rebuilt their roster with (from left to right) Stanford guard Jenna Brown, Texas center Lauren Ebo and Oregon forward Kylee Watson. PHOTOS COURTESY STANFORD, TEXAS AND OREGON 2022-23 NOTRE DAME SCHOLARSHIP ROSTER No. Name Pos. Ht. Cl./Elig. 0 Jenna Brown G 5-10 Gr./2 1 Dara Mabrey G 5-7 Gr./1 5 Olivia Miles G 5-10 So./3 11 Sonia Citron G 6-1 So./3 14 KK Bransford G 5-11 Fr./4 15 Natalija Marshall F 6-5 Jr./3 21 Maddy Westbeld F 6-3 Jr./3 22 Kylee Watson F 6-4 Jr./3 33 Lauren Ebo C 6-4 Gr./1

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