Blue and Gold Illustrated

January 2023

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

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BLUEGOLDONLINE.COM JANUARY 2023 49 WOMEN'S BASKETBALL and do what I do well every night, and we'll be fine." Miles and the Irish have the attention of the women's basketball community. They landed at No. 5 in ESPN's power rankings Dec. 12, one week after enter- ing the top five of the Associated Press poll for the first time since 2019. The 2021-22 season was about getting back to the national stage, and Notre Dame achieved that. Ivey's team made the Sweet 16 and was a bounce here and a bounce there away from surging into the Elite Eight. Visions of getting back there, or fur- ther, are completely realistic in 2022-23. M i l e s p l ays we l l beyond her years. Ebo, Mabrey and Westbeld are vastly experienced at this stage in their re- spective careers. If Miles wasn't Exhibit A on the floor at Purcell Pavilion every night, Citron would be instead. She's that talented. The pieces are there for Notre Dame to make a serious run in March. Sure, it's only December. But that much is already evident. And Miles makes it possible. "I'm excited for her and her success and what she's doing for our program," Ivey said. FIVE-STAR SIGNEE CASSANDRE PROSPER TO ENROLL EARLY, PLAY IN JANUARY An immediate reinforcement is on the way for Notre Dame women's basket- ball. Cassandre Prosper, who is ranked as the No. 16 overall prospect in the class of 2023, will enroll early at the uni- versity and play for the Fighting Irish this season, the university announced Dec. 12. "I can't wait to start with my team- mates and new coaches," Prosper said in an Instagram video. "I'm so blessed to be a part of this environment and com- munity. I'm ready for this new chapter!" Prosper committed to and signed with Notre Dame Nov. 12, right in the middle of the early signing window for the class of 2023. She was the second of three five-star recruits to sign with head coach Niele Ivey's team during that period. No. 5 overall recruit Hannah Hidalgo and No. 20 overall recruit Emma Risch were the others. Prosper will be the only one of the trio to enroll early and play this season. She will be in school in South Bend for the start of the spring semester and will be eligible to play in January. Prosper was in South Bend this past weekend to catch part of the Irish's 108-44 victory over Merrimack College. Ivey said she was elated to see Pros- per in attendance one day before her b ro t h e r, O l iv i e r- Maxence Prosper, sco re d 14 p o i n ts for Marquette in the Golden Eagles' 79-64 victory over Notre Dame. "She has an incredible family," Ivey said. "Basketball is in their roots. I think she's going to make a big difference here." The 6-2 forward with guard skills, as Ivey claims, from Cairine Wilson Sec- ondary School in Ottawa, Ontario, is following in current sophomore point guard Olivia Miles' footsteps. Miles en- rolled early as a five-star prospect in January 2021 and played six games for the Irish during the rest of the 2020- 21 season. She averaged 9.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 22.7 minutes per game. It's possible for Prosper to make a similar impact in an even larger sample size of games. There is a long way to go for Ivey and No. 5 Notre Dame (8-1), and the extra body will surely be of assistance. In multiple games this season, Ivey essentially employed a seven-player rotation. In the win over then-No. 3 UConn Dec. 4, for example, graduate student center Lauren Ebo played 30 minutes off the bench and freshman guard KK Bransford played 24. Junior center Nat Marshall was next in line among reserves with just three minutes played. Before the arrival of Prosper, Notre Dame had nine scholarship players on its roster. At 10, the Irish now have as many as they did during last season's run to the Sweet 16. One of those players, Katlyn Gilbert (who transferred to Missouri), did not play past Christmas for personal rea- sons. Marshall did not play past Jan. 20 because of a knee injury. Barring any injuries, Notre Dame will be more equipped for a deep run this year from a roster maintenance per- spective. Prosper is a major reason why. "Words can't describe the excitement that I have for our future," Ivey said. Notre Dame finished No. 5 in ESPN's 2023 national team recruiting rankings behind, in order, LSU, South Carolina, Arizona and UConn. The Irish did not crack ESPN's top 25 classes last year after only signing one recruit, four-star guard KK Bransford, who was the No. 29 overall player in the nation. ✦ 2022-23 WOMEN'S BASKETBALL SCHEDULE Date Opponent (TV) Result/Time (ET) Nov. 7 Northern Illinois W, 88-48 Nov. 12 vs. California+ W, 90-79 Nov. 16 at Northwestern W, 92-58 Nov. 20 Ball State W, 95-60 Nov. 24 vs. American^ W, 90-65 Nov. 26 vs. Arizona State^ W, 85-65 Dec. 1 Maryland% L, 74-72 Nov. 4 Connecticut! W, 74-60 Dec. 8 Lafayette Ppd. Dec. 10 Merrimack W, 108-44 Dec. 18 at Virginia Tech* (ACCN) 4 p.m. Dec. 21 Western Michigan (ACCNX) 12 p.m. Dec. 29 at Miami* (ACCN) 6 p.m. Jan. 1 Boston College* (ACCN) 12 p.m. Jan. 8 at North Carolina* (ACCN) 4 p.m. Jan. 12 Wake Forest* (ACCNX) 7 p.m. Jan. 15 at Syracuse* (ACCN) 2 p.m. Jan. 19 at Clemson* (RSN) 7 p.m. Jan. 22 Virginia* (ACCN) 2 p.m. Jan. 26 Florida State* (RSN) 8 p.m. Jan 29 at North Carolina State* (ESPN) 3 p.m. Feb. 2 at Boston College* (ACCNX) 7 p.m. Feb. 5 Duke* (RSN) 1 p.m. Feb. 9 Pittsburgh* (ACCN) 6 p.m. Feb. 12 Syracuse* (ACCN) 4 p.m. Feb. 16 Louisville* (ESPN) 7 p.m. Feb. 19 at Pittsburgh* (ACCNX) 2 p.m. Feb. 23 Georgia Tech* (RSN) 6 p.m. Feb. 26 at Louisville* (ESPN) 12 p.m. Mar. 1-5 ACC Tournament$ TBD + Shamrock Classic in St. Louis; ^ Goombay Splash at Bimini, Bahamas; % ACC/Big Ten Challenge; ! Women's Jimmy V Classic; * ACC game; $ at Greensboro, N.C. (ACCN — ACC Network; ACCNX — ACC Network Extra; RSN — Regional Sports Networks) "I come in to every game knowing I'm going to do X, Y and Z for the program. I'm going to get my rebounds; I'm going to get my points; I'm going to get my assists." MILES

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