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Men’s Basketball: Brey signs prospects Jackson, Harangody

Pat Leonard | Thursday, November 10, 2005

Notre Dame coach Mike Brey announced Tuesday morning that Luke Harangody (Schererville, Ind.) and Tory Jackson (Saginaw, Mich.) both have signed national letters of intent to play for the Irish beginning next fall.

The two high school seniors had already made verbal commitments to Notre Dame, but their Tuesday morning signings made the news official.

“You feel like you won two games in one day, and you never really get to do that when you’re playing during the season,” Brey said to open his signing day press conference in the Joyce Center. “When I look at them on the back end of the four freshmen … and with [sophomores Omari] Israel and [Rob] Kurz, those are eight guys that I think form a great nucleus.”

The Observer could not reach Jackson or Harangody for comment Tuesday night.

Neither player’s signing comes as a surprise. Harangody (6-foot-8, 250 pounds) ended speculation July 20 when he chose the Irish, and Jackson (5-foot-10, 175 pounds) made his unofficial decision on Sept. 20.

Brey anticipates Harangody having an “immediate impact” and believes that was one factor that drove the Indiana native to commit.

“With what we’re losing body-type-wise in [senior forward Rick] Cornett and [senior center Torin] Francis, he becomes very important as a freshman, and I think he certainly saw that through the process,” Brey said.

The head coach watched Harangody play for his Andrean High School team in Dec. 2004 and liked his toughness, ability to finish, size and offensive versatility. But Brey did not commit himself completely until he saw Harangody play against more active and athletic AAU competition.

“We went down and watched him play 11 games in two-and-a-half days in Houston, and he kicked everybody’s butt in Houston,” Brey said. “Just about everybody in the gym was scared of him.

“From that point on, we made it very clear where we stood.”

Harangody led Andrean – in Merrillville, Ind. – to the Gary Class 3A sectional championship and a 21-3 overall record in his junior season, averaging 23.2 points and 12.3 rebounds. He shot 63.7 percent from the floor while becoming an all-state selection of the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association (IBCA) and subsequently playing in the Indiana Senior-Junior All-star games.

Brey described Jackson also as a tough player, but unlike Harangody – who has size the Irish lack – Jackson did not initially present Notre Dame with a commodity they did not already have.

Jackson is a short, quick guard who can “break you down off the dribble,” Brey said.

The Buena Vista High School point guard and 2005 Michigan Class C Player of the Year averaged 30 points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals in his junior season.

But Brey’s character description and Jackson’s stature and statistics all resemble those of a current Irish youngster.

“Like [freshman point guard Kyle] McAlarney, he can score it, too,” Brey said. “So playing them together is certainly an option.”

Brey said he saw Jackson play on the summer AAU circuit in Las Vegas, Nev., with another Michigan native and Irish prospect, Tom Herzog, who eventually chose Michigan State over Notre Dame.

But then the Irish moved in on Jackson as other schools like Michigan, Michigan State and Florida pursued him, and Brey found that new NCAA regulations for earlier team practice made his decision on Jackson easier.

“You’re able to watch your team play a little bit more in the fall before you get out on the road and recruit in September now,” Brey said. “As I’m looking around I’m thinking, ‘I don’t think we can get caught with just maybe one true ball-handler,’ that being McAlarney. We did that with [Martin] Inglesby for a year. We did that with [Chris] Thomas for a year.”

Notre Dame has three scholarships open for its next recruiting class, which can also be used to court transfers.

Brey said Notre Dame will keep its eyes open but that coaches have had their focus on the junior class since July.

Notes

u Brey joked that Jackson may have swayed him by, of all things, being the second youngest of 14 siblings.

“If you’re one of 14 children like this guy, I mean, do you think he’s ever gonna lose a loose ball?” Brey said. “He’s never gonna lose a loose ball.”

u Freshman point guard Kyle McAlarney will not play Friday night against Quincy due to lower back spasms.

Brey called the setback “frustrating,” particularly since he said McAlarney “felt he belonged” in the team’s first exhibition game against Lewis University.The point guard had seven points, three assists and one turnover in 18 minutes last Thursday.

“Anytime you have a low back, you’re concerned,” Brey said. “[But] I believe we can get him back. Hopefully we can get him back early next week to get him ready for our game [against Lafayette Nov. 20].”

Brey said McAlarney has no history of back spasms in high school or in the past summer he spent in South Bend.

“We had a little bit of a flare-up two weeks ago. He missed a day or two then was back for the week of practice and exhibition then flared up Saturday morning before we even got started,” Brey said. “We just felt we’re going to really try and calm this down now while we have time to hope it’s not something we’re dancing with all season.”

u Senior forward Rick Cornett will play against Quincy Friday after sitting out Notre Dame’s first exhibition game with a sore left ankle, Brey said.

“I don’t think he’s 100 percent, but we’ve got to get him in there,” Brey said. “He’s been out a while. He’s going to be a key guy, [and] we’ve got to get him in the mix.”

Brey said Cornett participated in most of Monday’s practice. He said Cornett would practice slightly more Tuesday and then go for a full practice Wednesday.