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Irish land three top-100 recruits

Pat Leonard | Wednesday, May 12, 2004

After failing to reach the NCAA Tournament and offering only one scholarship for the incoming freshmen class, Mike Brey and the Irish have snagged three of the Top 100 junior recruits and opened the eyes of fans and basketball media everywhere.Most recently, 6-foot-6, 190-pound junior forward Ryan Ayers gave a verbal commitment to Notre Dame on May 5 from his home in Philadelphia. Ayers, the son of former Ohio State and Philadelphia 76ers coach Randy Ayers, averaged 16.4 points in a 24-8 junior season at Germantown Academy. His 914 career total points have helped Germantown to a 61-29 record during his career.”I decided Notre Dame is the right place for me,” Ayers told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I have a great relationship and comfort level with coach Brey. The athletics are at a high level. It’s a great school.”Ayers marks the third verbal commitment for at least four scholarships Brey is expected to use on the class of 2009. Zach Hillesland, a 6-foot-7 forward from Toledo, Ohio, began the rush with a commitment Feb. 17. Little over a week before Ayers announced, 6-foot-11, 225-pound center Luke Zeller out of Washington, Ind. said that he wished to play for Brey’s Irish as well.Zeller chose the Irish over Illinois, Kansas and Stanford and is considered the top center prospect in the Midwest and among the top at this position nationally. He averaged 19.8 points and 9.4 rebounds for the Washington High School Hatchets last season, his third year starting for the team. Zeller averaged 15.3 points as a freshman and 18.1 as a sophomore. He is the first in-state recruit since Chris Thomas committed from Pike High School in Indianapolis.The Irish are still on the lookout for a point guard to round up their class of 2009 recruiting class after failing to secure one for next season.The lone recruit coming in from the class of 2008 for Brey is 6-foot-8, 185-pound small forward Rob Kurz out of Philadelphia’s Penn Charter High School. Penn Charter’s point guard, highly touted ball-handler Sean Singletary, chose Virginia over Notre Dame.Ayers did just the opposite for the class of 2009, picking the Irish over the Cavaliers. The first-team All-Inter-Academic League forward is only the most recent of a slew of Philadelphia high school prospects to land in South Bend over the course of the past decade.Notre Dame has enjoyed success recruiting in the city of Brotherly Love, graduating Martin Ingelsby of Archbishop Carroll – now head of basketball operations – Jimmy Dillon of Holy Ghost Prep and Matt Carroll of Hatboro Horsham. Torrian Jones out of Pennsbury High School graduates Sunday.In addition, graduated transfer Dan Miller hailed from South New Jersey’s Rancocas Valley High, and rising sophomore Russell Carter played in Paulsboro, N.J.Players have been attracted by the consistency of the Big East and Notre Dame’s potential within the league.”We’ve been able to sell this league,” Brey told the South Bend Tribune. “It’s been exciting for kids to say, ‘Wow, look at this league.’ Let’s see if we can keep it going.”