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Men’s Basketball: Notre Dame signs trio of guards to 2010 recruiting class

Eric Prister | Thursday, November 12, 2009

Announcing three signees for the 2010 class, Notre Dame focused on filling a hole that will emerge after this season at the guard position, receiving National Letters of Intent from guards Eric Atkins, Alex Dragicevich and Jerian Grant to fill three out the four scholarships available after the 2009-10 season.

Atkins, a true point guard from Baltimore, will attempt to fill the spot of Tory Jackson, Notre Dame’s veteran at the one-position. It was not only his skill, but his communication ability that Irish coach Mike Brey says makes him most confident that Atkins can move into the point guard role immediately.

“I was really impressed by his skill level, but more than that, his ability to communicate,” Brey said. “Certainly we are losing one of the best communicators we’ve ever had in Jackson and that really sold me, that I thought he’d be a great fit and that we’d have a great shot at getting him. I’m excited about him and I also feel good, because (Atkins) got the ball rolling with this class. He got us started last spring and really gave us some direction by having our point guard in the spring and having it done before we go into the summer.”

Atkins averaged over 23 points and six assists during his junior year at Mount St. Joseph High School, and played on an AAU team that won the Adidas Take 5 championship and the Teak Breakdown Tournament.

“He has a point guard mentality, and that’s a need that we truly need, given what we’re losing in (Jonathan Peoples) and (Jackson), but the communicator was what really sold it to me. He’s long, he has great length, and he still might be growing a little bit. But (he has) a feel for the game, great speed, comes from a winning program.”

Dragicevich is a 6-foot-6 guard from Glenbrook North High School in suburban Chicago, where he averaged over 20 points per game as a junior. Brey compared him with big wing players Notre Dame has had in the past, including Matt Carroll and David Graves.

“He’s got great size, and he can handle the ball,” Brey said. “He has a feel for the game, he shoots it. He’s the whole package as far as a guy that can really play any position on the perimeter. What really impressed me when I saw (Dragovich) was that he was handling the ball against speed and pressure, along with making shots and passing it, but he could put it on the floor and get places.”

A 6-foot-5 guard from Washington, D.C., Grant is the son of former NBA basketball player Harvey Grant, and the nephew of Chicago Bulls star Horace Grant. He was named the MVP of the Nike Super Showcase championship game while playing with his AAU team, Nike Team Takeover.

“I think one of the things we’ve tried to do here is catch those guys who are arcing up at the right time,” Brey said. “Grant was (one of) those guys. I don’t know if we’ve ever taken a commitment from a younger senior. He was 16 years old when he committed to us. Since then, he’s turned 17. Obviously the bloodlines are good with (Harvey Grant) and I think there’s some growth still coming, but there’s an athletic, slashing, scoring guard who handles the ball really well.”

With the loss of Jackson and Peoples, along with senior transfer Ben Hansbrough, the Irish will have room at the guard position where all three freshmen can enter and compete for playing time next season.

“Obviously, (Atkins) has a leg up in that he is a true point guard,” Brey said. “But those other two young men, part of my recruiting theme with them was that ‘I need you to be ready,’ because we lose some really experienced guards with (Jackson and Peoples), and I think they really can be ready. They come from cities where the lights have been bright and they’ve played big high school games, and competitive AAU games, so I feel like they’re going to be ready as freshmen.”

With one scholarship remaining, the Irish will continue to keep a lookout for someone to fill that spot, both in recruiting and also on the transfer wire.

“We’re always looking,” Brey said. “Late signees have been good to us, so you’re always looking to see what emerges. You can get late arcing guys this way too, so those are two examples of it. But we’ll keep our mind open, but also obviously the transfer wire, where we’ll see what’s going on.”