J.J. Starling commits to Notre Dame, becomes highest-rated recruit in program history
Observer Sports Staff | Wednesday, October 13, 2021
This afternoon La Lumiere School guard J.J. Starling, the number one recruit in Indiana and number 33 recruit nation-wide (per 247sports), announced his verbal commitment to Notre Dame.
Starling, who became the highest-ranked commitment in Irish history since 247 started ranking recruits, was generally considered to be head coach Mike Brey’s highest-priority target in the class of 2022.
The 6-foot-5 combo guard chose Notre Dame over a host of schools notable for both academic and basketball prowess, including Duke, Maryland, Northwestern, Stanford and Syracuse. The Irish had been considered the favorites in the race to land Starling since last month, in part — potentially — thanks to a high-profile Labor Day Weekend visit that included Brey driving the four-star prospect from La Lumiere’s gym to Notre Dame’s campus in a cherry red Ferrari.
It’s not hard to see why Brey went all out for the crown jewel of an Indiana prospect crop that’s always top notch. Scouts rave about his scoring capacity, and his tape backs the praise up. One quick watch through of any camp highlight compilation of Starling shows a clear ability to put the ball in the net in a variety of ways, be it driving to the rim for a contested layup, slamming in an open dunk, or knocking down a three pointer.
Scouts have been impressed by the Baldwinsville, New York, native’s continuous development as well. In his most recent report, 247sports’ Eric Bossi noted that “Starling seems to get a little taller, a little stronger and a little better each time we see him.”
While it’s never easy to determine the extent a prospect will play early on when they haven’t even practiced with the team yet, it’s hard to imagine Starling’s sheer amount of talent won’t quickly find him a place in Brey’s rotation, and he’ll only be helped by his versatility. A combo guard by nature, it’s possible Starling starts out as a shooting guard and is slowly coaxed into a point guard role as his time in South Bend goes on and he further hones his skillset as a creator as well as a scorer.
Starling’s commitment represents a major win for Brey, who has struggled in recent years to keep Notre Dame in the national tournament conversation. The Irish haven’t made it to March Madness since the 2016-17 season, meaning no current Notre Dame undergraduate has ever seen the team play an NCAA tournament game. And prior to last year, Brey had been struggling to bring in the talent required to get the team back in the Big Dance; according to 247, before the commitment of 2021 shooting guard Blake Wesley, the Irish hadn’t signed a four-star recruit since the 2018 class. But with Wesley now on the roster, and Starling joining fellow four-star Dom Campbell (ranked 92nd nationally by 247sports) in the 2022 class, Brey is starting to once again assemble the requisite pieces for a Notre Dame team that can both play and compete come March.