Men’s side adds guard, two forwards to squad
Mike Monaco | Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Two days before Notre Dame begins its regular season, Irish coach Mike Brey announced its three-man recruiting class of 2014 — power forward Elijah Burns, guard Rex Pflueger and forward Matt Ryan — on signing day Wednesday.At 6-foot-8, 225-pounds, Burns adds to the frontcourt depth hauled in during last year’s recruiting cycle in current freshmen forwards Martinas Geben and Bonzie Colson. Before last season, Burns transferred to Blair Academy in Blairstown, New Jersey, where he averaged 13.0 points and six rebounds per game.
Brey compared Burns to former Irish forward Ty Nash (2007-11), touting Burns’ feel for the game, passing ability and athleticism.
The Irish also welcome marksman Matt Ryan, the No. 156 overall player in the country, according to 247Sports’ composite rankings. Ryan was limited to just eight games last season at the Iona Preparatory School in New Rochelle, New York, after undergoing hip surgery.
“I don’t think there’s a better shooter in the class,” Brey said. “No one got to see him much in the last year, so people have forgotten about him a little bit.”
Brey said he thinks Ryan is 95 percent of the way back from the injury and expects a full recovery.
Ryan pledged to the Irish in July, eight days before Burns offered his commitment. Brey said it was important to land the two commitments during the July period.
“It gave us direction on who to look at the rest of the summer,” Brey said.
Exactly two months after Ryan announced his commitment, Pflueger joined the class in September. The four-star wing is slotted as the No. 111 overall player in the nation, per 247Sports’ composite rankings. Brey called the Dana Point, California, native an “amazing athlete.”“He’s that kind of wing/guard that has a great feel for the game, has the ability to slash and finish around the basket because of his athletic ability, solid shooter who will only get better,” Brey said. “He’s an excellent defender — can really move his feet and defend — and an amazingly competitive kid.”
Although Brey said the ACC was certainly a draw for Pflueger, the head coach said Notre Dame has not altered its recruiting approach too much since joining the conference before last season.
“We’re not really changing our recruiting philosophy,” Brey said. “We’re gonna need really good players in this league. And we’re not necessarily making wholesale changes to our style of play.”
The constants among the three signees, Brey said, are their basketball IQs, feels for the game and passing abilities.
Notre Dame has one more scholarship it “can play with,” Brey said, and the Irish will continue to explore the transfer wire. Brey said the staff has an open mind to adding a transfer around Christmas or in the spring. The Irish are still looking at high-school senior big men too, Brey added.
“The nice thing is we had [Ryan and Burns] committed in July and Rex shortly thereafter, the Michigan [football] weekend [in September],” Brey said. “I’ve been really able to work on juniors and turn our attention to juniors.”