For The Records With Notre Dame Fighting Irish Men’s Basketball Junior Forward Nate Laszewski
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For The Records With Notre Dame’s Nate Laszewski

In March 2018, Notre Dame basketball recruit Nate Laszewski won the eighth annual U.S. Marine’s Men’s Three-Point Championship among top high school players.

Now as a junior for the Fighting Irish, the 6-10 Laszewski has developed into one of the most lethal three-point shooters in the country — and overall — while leading them in scoring (15.5 points per game) and rebounding (7.9) going into Tuesday night’s game at Duke.

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Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s basketball junior forward Nate Laszewski
Laszewski as a pure shooter ranks at the elite level nationally. (Ray Mehta/USA TODAY Sports)

Unfortunately, the current 7-10 record (4-7 in the ACC) by the Fighting Irish has been a disappointment, and it was compounded by an 82-80 defeat Saturday night at Georgia Tech in which a 15-point Irish halftime lead (which was as high as 17) was squandered. Laszewski finished the game 11 of 13 from the floor and 4 of 6 from three-point range while tallying 27 points.

However, his breakout season has continued a pattern in the last decade of Fighting Irish big men — Jack Cooley, Zach Auguste, Bonzie Colson and John Mooney — blossoming into premier figures as juniors before embarking on professional careers overseas, if not a brief taste in the NBA.

Currently, Laszewski ranks seventh nationally in field goal percentage (64.3) and he is on pace to set the single-season record at Notre Dame for best three-point percentage with a minimum of 75 attempts: 31 of 59 for 52.5 percent so far.

What must be remembered about this achievement is that in 2019 the length of the three-point line was increased to 22 feet, 1¾ inches — a huge difference from the original 19-9 in 1986 that was moved back a foot to 20-9 in 2008.

The best single-season, three-point shooting percentages at Notre Dame (minimum 75 attempts) is held by Joe Fredrick — 52.1 percent in 1988-89 when the distance was 19-9. Fredrick, whose nephew CJ Fredrick is a sharp-shooting guard at top-10 ranked Iowa, also is No. 2 on the chart at 47.2 percent the following year as a senior.

As for his 64.3 percent shooting overall, Laszewski currently stands fourth on the single-season Notre Dame chart.

Bruce Flowers holds the single-season mark of 65.6 percent in 1978-79 while averaging 9.5 points per game, and first-round NBA pick Orlando Woolridge at 65.0 percent as a senior in 1980-81 is right behind him while averaging 14.4 points. Next up was Keith Robinson’s .647 in 1987-88 while averaging 9.6 points per game.

The top 5 is rounded out by a couple of top 5 NBA picks.

As a 1991-92 senior, LaPhonso Ellis converted 63.1 percent from the field while averaging 17.7 points.

As a 1973-74 senior for a Notre Dame team that finished 26-3 and in the top 5, John Shumate converted 62.7 percent from the floor while averaging 24.2 points per game and earning first-team All-America notice.

Meanwhile, Laszewski also is on pace to reach a shooter’s Holy Grail “180 Mark.” That’s where someone’s shooting percentage from field, three-point range and free throw line adds up to 180.

No one has ever achieved that at Notre Dame, with Tim Abromaitis barely missing in 2009-10 while averaging 16.1 points per game. That year he finished at 179.7, converting 49.5 percent of his field goals, 42.9 percent of his three-pointers and 87.3 percent of his free throws.

Currently, Laszewski is at 183.5: 64.3 percent from the field, 52.5 percent from three-point range — and a relatively disappointing 66.7 percent (48 of 72) from the foul line, including a late one-and-one miss in the loss at Georgia Tech.

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