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ND Women’s Basketball: Irish land top-15 class

Eric Retter | Thursday, November 9, 2006

Notre Dame has locked up the No. 11 recruiting class in the country, according to Blue Star Basketball, securing letters of intent from three top-tier prospects.

All three Irish commits are ranked in the top-100, and all signed Wednesday at the start of the early signing period. This is the 11th straight year that the Irish have signed a top-25 recruiting class, matched only by two other programs, Connecticut and Tennessee – which signed this year’s top class, according to Scout.com.

The three rookies that will join the Notre Dame squad next season are Devereaux Peters, a 6-2 forward from Fenwick High School in Chicago, Becca Bruszewski, a 6-1 forward from Wheeler High School in Valparaiso, Ind., and Brittany Mallory, a 5-10 guard from the McDonogh School in Baltimore, Md.

“We are thrilled with this class,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said at her press conference Wednesday. “I think we’re really securing our future. We’re doing a really good job on the recruiting front.”

Peters, a consensus top-35 recruit, is the most highly touted commit of this year’s class. A Street & Smith’s honorable mention All-American in each of the past three seasons, she has averaged 11.3 points per game in her three-plus seasons with the Friars, including 12.9 points a game last season.

Last year, Peters also averaged a team-best 7.7 rebounds a game and recorded a .605 field goal percentage while helping lead Fenwick to a 32-2 record and a top-20 national ranking.

“I think the biggest thing we thought we needed was a really big, athletic post who could rebound, defend and score, and I think we got that in Devereaux Peters,” McGraw said. “She’s going to be able to score in a lot of ways. She fits really well into the offense we’re running right now.

“I think her versatility and her athletic ability are exactly what we needed.”

Of the three, McGraw said Peters had the best chance of contributing the most in her freshman season.

“With Crystal [Erwin] graduating and the spot opening up inside, I think the way she plays, being able to play inside a lot more [will help her],” she said. “But I think they’re all going to play. It’s just a question of how quickly they can acclimate themselves to the college game.”

Bruszewski, McGraw said, will also likely be able to contribute in the post next season. Bruszewski has averaged 18.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game in her career at Wheeler High. She is the first player in school history to average a double-double for an entire season, a feat that she has accomplished in each of the past two seasons.

Last season, she averaged 22.5 points and 10.1 rebounds, and she recorded three triple-doubles.

Bruszewski was a consensus top-100 player, and she was ranked No. 44 in the nation by Dan Olson Collegiate Girls Basketball Report.

“The thing that Becca [Bruszewski] gives us is she is one tough kid,” McGraw said. “She is competitive, [and] she brings the attitude that Crystal has and the intimidating presence that we need. [She is] the kind of player who is going to go toe-to-toe and not back down from anyone.”

McGraw said Bruszewski showed her tenacity on the volleyball court, where she has also shone.

“I think she broke somebody’s nose in volleyball last year with a spike, and it didn’t really bother her much,” McGraw said.

Bruszewski’s commitment was influenced at least in part by current Notre Dame freshman Melissa Lechlitner, who played with Bruszewski on the Indiana Elite AAU team.

“When I saw Becca play with Lech[litner], I immediately asked her what she thought of her, and she was very high on her,” McGraw said.

Mallory will round out the Irish recruit class this season. In her career at McDonogh, she has averaged 19.6 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. Ranked 96th by Blue Star Basketball, Mallory has been named to the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland (IAAM) All-Star team in both basketball and lacrosse in each of the past two seasons.

“Brittany Mallory [is] a very complete offensive player,” McGraw said. “She’s someone who can score, she can pass, she can handle the ball, [and] she is a great shooter. She really is going to be tremendous in our offense.”

In combining this year’s recruits with the current freshman class that was ranked 21st last season, McGraw is confident with Notre Dame’s prospects for the next several seasons.

“When you look at our freshman class now and add these three to it, I think there’s great things in the future,” she said.