Grant, Connaughton awarded team MVP honors
Brian Hartnett | Tuesday, April 14, 2015
There was much to celebrate at “An Evening with Notre Dame Men’s Basketball,” the team’s annual awards ceremony, Monday night at Purcell Pavilion.
Before a packed house at the arena’s Heritage Hall, Irish players, coaches and staff commemorated a 32-win season and national top-five finish, said their farewells to the team’s seniors, guard Jerian Grant and guard/forward Pat Connaughton, and ended the night by unfurling the ACC tournament championship banner that will hang in the rafters of Purcell Pavilion starting next season.
“This was a team that captured the nation, and certainly it captured our fanbase and our fans,” Irish head coach Mike Brey said. “… Never have I had other head Division I basketball coaches, starting with the Final Four and [going] through recruiting weekend [last weekend], talk about, ‘That was unbelievable. I was cheering for you.’”
In a departure from the norm, the Notre Dame Monogram Club awarded two MVP awards — one to Grant, the other to Connaughton.
“All of our great teams at Notre Dame — and this was one of the greatest teams we’ve had — have special leadership in those great years, students who take on the mantle of leading their peers to that success and accept all of the responsibilities and all the difficulties that come with being a leader,” Notre Dame Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick said. “And I have rarely been around two better than Pat and Jerian.”
Grant acknowledged there were times in his career when he considered leaving Notre Dame but said he was glad to have stayed at the University.
“When I came here, [Brey] asked me to redshirt, and I talked to my family, I wanted to get out of here, I didn’t want to sit on the bench for a whole year and watch other people play,” Grant said. “Just talking to Coach Brey, with us having our conversations when he’d keep me calm and say my time was going to come, that meant so much to me.”
Connaughton, a member of the Irish baseball team for three seasons who has completed his coursework in the Mendoza College of Business, also picked up the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley Rockne Student-Athlete Award.
“I don’t know if we’ve had a student-athlete like [Connaughton], to play two sports, to lead, to win, to set the tone, to know what to say,” Brey said. “… It was one of the greatest displays of leadership we’ve ever had at this University.”
The awards ceremony featured four additional awards. The Outstanding Playmaker award went to sophomore guard Demetrius Jackson. The Most Improved Player award went to junior forward Zach Auguste. The Newcomer of the Year award went to freshman forward Bonzie Colson, and the Defensive Player of the Year award went to sophomore guard Steve Vasturia.
“We’re excited about digging back in with next year’s group as we get started,” Brey said.