Recruiting Breakdown: Trey Wertz
Hayden Adams | Tuesday, April 21, 2020
Notre Dame men’s basketball’s 2020 recruiting class has now doubled after picking up commitments from three-star forward Tony Sanders Jr. on Apr. 3 and Santa Clara transfer Trey Wertz on Apr. 11. Head coach Mike Brey held a press conference via Zoom Wednesday in which he talked about each player’s recruitment and the skillset they bring to the Notre Dame roster.
Head coach Mike Brey discussed Wertz recruitment and how he fits the Notre Dame program, not only in terms of athletics, but academics as well.
“[He] just knows how to play, and I think he really saw an opportunity and a style of play,” Brey said. “I knew we were in good shape when he texted me in the process, ‘Coach, I‘ve been on synergy. Do you see me playing like Jerian Grant in your system?’ I said, ‘Bingo. Yes.’ And so, anyway, he’s a really bright kid; [his] goal is to get an MBA like Rex [Pflueger] did and like Nik Djogo will do this next year in his fifth year. But very excited to have him in, a great fit for us.”
After joining Santa Clara as a three-star prospect, the Charlotte North Carolina native made an instant splash, averaging 12.2 points and 4.7 assists in 32.7 minutes per contest. However, he averaged 3.8 turnovers per game and shot only 31.7 percent from three as a freshman.
In his second season, the WCC All-Freshman team member saw his workload lightened. His averages dipped somewhat as he posted marks of 11.9 points and 3.9 assists in 28.6 minutes a contest. Where he did improve was in his efficiency, rebounding and ball control. He went from 2.9 to 3.5 rebounds per game and his turnovers decreased to 2.5 per contest. He also improved his three-point shooting to 40 percent with the same number of attempts per game.
Wertz won’t be eligible for Notre Dame in the 2020-21 season, barring another massive rash of injuries that would allow him an emergency waiver. Even so, Brey believes the 6-foot-5, 180-pound combo guard will be a valuable asset for the Irish in his final two years of eligibility.
“I‘m very excited about Trey and he is one of those guards in a long, long line of guards that we‘ve had,” Brey said. “You think about us two years from now when he gets eligible, when you come at people with Cormac Ryan, Prentiss Hubb, Trey Wertz, Dane Goodwin and Nate Laszewski, you can really spread that floor out.”
“He is a feel-for-the-game guy, he’s got a great skill set“
I‘m gonna be honest. I love this kid‘s game (yes, I just called him “kid” and I’m only one academic year ahead of him). I‘ll let Brey break it down.
“I don’t know if he’s a one or a two or a two-and-a-half or a three or whatever, but he is a basketball player,” Brey said. “He is a feel-for-the-game guy, he‘s got a great skill set … Good off-the-dribble skill set. He‘s got a great wingspan; he‘s 6-foot-5 but he‘s got a 6-foot-11 wingspan. Length is always important in this game now.”
You can see he has a bit of flair to his game, as well as some nice handles and burst to beat his defenders. He‘s also a pretty crafty finisher around the basket, and he‘s lethal with his floater when he gets in the paint area.
Aside from that, his jump shot is solid, as evidenced by the 40 percent he shot from three as a sophomore. He‘s got a quick release, and his mechanics are clean.
Most importantly though, he‘s got the ability to shoot both off the dribble as well as off the catch and running off of screens. That will allow him to fit seamlessly into the offense even if rising juniors Prentiss Hubb or Cormac Ryan are running the point and he plays off-ball.
To me, Wertz‘s game is reminiscent of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Oklahoma City Thunder. They have almost the same measurements and play a very similar style. Neither wows with their athleticism, but rather, is incredibly crafty in using their length and ball-handling ability to gain leverage on their opponent (though, to be clear, Wertz is not yet on the level Gilgeous-Alexander was even in college).
All in all, I think the greatest asset Wertz provides is his versatility. Something Notre Dame has lacked the last couple of seasons is a guard who can hurt the defense in several ways. They relied on John Mooney to do virtually everything — rebound, pass, shoot — and Rex Pflueger did just about everything but score the ball. With his length and skill set, Wertz can do it all for the Irish.
Wertz is not gonna wow with athleticism, and he‘ll be vulnerable if forced to guard a bigger body down low defensively. Plus, he is a bit more turnover prone than I would like for a guy moving from the WCC to the ACC. But I really like his playstyle because he‘s a gamer.
This is a guy who was the No. 400 player in his class per 247Sports, but he wants to compete at the highest level, which, as Brey explained, makes sense given his background.
“I‘ll say this about the Wertz family,” Brey said. “… [They] understand, ‘I‘m handing my son over to a coach,’ and I think the two of them — Whitney and Langston, Trey‘s parents — are extremely supportive of the young man doing what he wanted to do. Because, you know, here‘s a kid who grew up on Tobacco Road, but yet understood the Notre Dame opportunity was a better opportunity and they fully supported that.”
As a member of a mid-major program in the WCC, Wertz has played in front of some lackluster crowds (great illegal screen from his teammate by the way).
But when the moment comes, Wertz is ready for it. Here’s some clips of him being clutch as a freshman in a double-overtime victory over USC.
I only wish we could see Wertz in action right away, especially in a backcourt featuring Prentiss Hubb, Robby Carmody, Dane Goodwin and Cormac Ryan. But it might be good that he gets a year in Brey‘s system to integrate with the mentality of taking care of the basketball.
Regardless, I think Wertz will be a great player for the Irish once he’s able to take the court, and he could even play his way into the All-ACC honorable mention discussion.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.