How Notre Dame men's basketball addressed needs in 2024 class
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The work in putting together Notre Dame’s 2024 recruiting class for the men’s basketball program began well before head coach Micah Shrewsberry was hired by the Irish in March.
That’s because all three of the recruits who signed with Notre Dame on Wednesday, the first day of the early signing period, were recruited by Shrewsberry and his staff at Penn State. Four-star guard Sir Mohammed, three-star guard Cole Certa and three-star forward Garrett Sundra all followed through with their commitments to Shrewsberry’s vision of the Irish program.
As of Wednesday evening, Rivals ranked Notre Dame’s class No. 28 in the country. The 2023 class that Shrewsberry put together upon arrival was ranked No. 55.
Notre Dame completed its 2024 recruiting efforts before Shrewsberry had even coached a game for the Irish. That could make for complicated projections with a current roster playing together for the first time. But it was made easier by the fact that Shrewsberry brought with him so many familiar faces in constructing the 2023-24 roster.
The Irish brought over all three of Penn State’s 2023 signees: guard Logan Imes, forward Carey Booth and guard Braeden Shrewsberry, his son. Sophomore forward Kebba Njie followed Micah Shrewsberry with a transfer from Penn State. Sophomore forward Tae Davis transferred in from Seton Hall to play for a coaching staff that’s known him for years. And freshman Markus Burton, the lone holdover from head coach Mike Brey’s 2023 recruiting class, had played with the younger Shrewsberry on the AAU circuit.
So putting all the pieces together in the middle of a program transition actually worked out in Notre Dame’s favor.
“We knew what we had as human beings, as skill set,” said director of recruiting Brian Snow. “You never know exactly how everything's going to translate until the games start, but we had an idea. We knew these kids as well, because we'd already been recruiting them. So it was kind of a seamless transition.
“We felt that their specific skill sets would fit the holes we had with what we already knew we had coming in. It was a very seamless transition for us, and it was kind of easy for us to project them into what we were doing going forward.”
The Irish intend for the transfer portal to play a supplementary role rather than a foundational one, which makes projecting future rosters a little more easier, too.
“Our vision is we want to be good in the present and the future,” Micah Shrewsberry said. “We're going to recruit high school kids. We're going to keep them here. We're going to make them ours. We're going to get them better. It allows these guys to grow together.
“I know we're going against the grain of what everybody else is trying to do. If you look at signing day around the country, people don't celebrate this like they used to, because they're recruiting in the handshake line. I'm recruiting high school kids.
“We know who we got and who's coming, but they know too. Sir Mohammed knew who was going to be on our roster. I'm not going to pull a rabbit out of my hat in the transfer portal in the spring and now he's saying, ‘Well, I didn't know you had this guy. Or we didn't know this was going to be here.’ They can look at our roster and see who's going to be here and how they all fit together.
“As a parent that has a kid that's a junior in high school, he can look and see this is Notre Dame’s roster. This is who they’re going to have. This is how I fit with them, and I can see it. We're not going to beat down doors in the transfer portal, sign these kids and then bring in a whole bunch of different kids and now have no idea where you stand. You're going to know with us.”
Shrewsberry, Snow and the Irish coaching staff broke down all three of the new additions for next year’s roster in a press conference Wednesday that included game highlights. Here’s what you need to know about each of them.
Four-star guard Sir Mohammed
Junior stats: 13.5 points, 5.3 rebounds 4.9 assists and 1.9 steals for a Myers Parks team that finished with a 28-4 record and a 4A state championship.
Rivals ranking: No. 21 shooting guard, No. 66 overall.
Commitment date: August 12, 2023.
Notable offers: Villanova, Marquette, Virginia Tech and Stanford.
NBA ties: Father, Nazr Mohammed, played 18 seasons in the NBA as a center and won a championship with the San Antonio Spurs in 2005.
Assistant coach Mike Farrelly on Sir Mohammed:
“Winning player coming off a state championship last year. Myers Park again in all these preseason polls is ranked top 20 in the country and one of the top public high schools in the country for their basketball program. He brings a lot to the table, but first and foremost coming from a great family. His parents, Mandi and Nazr Mohammed, have raised him to be a great kid. Just wonderful to recruit, to get to know, to be around and was just a natural fit for us once we started to recruit him and got to know him better. Built a great relationship with coach Shrewsberry. I don’t think anybody in the country recruited him harder than coach Shrews did. The bond that they’ve built was really key into getting him here.
“Successful Myers Park High School, Team Curry on the AAU circuit. Has been all over the Steph Curry Camp and Elite 24 and had some great success on the grassroots side of things as well. Really, really excited to get him here.
“He’s as high-IQ of a basketball player as there is in the country. I think he has the highest IQ, and we’ve seen them all. You’ll see here in a lot of his AAU highlights, him playing as the point guard for Team Curry and just finding people. His reads off of ball screens, and what he’s able to do, the vision he plays with both in the half court and in transition is pretty much unmatched in the 2024 class. For how we play and what we do, just such a great fit in our system, in our read-and-react and making reads.
“Obviously, he has great size for the point guard position: 6-5, 6-6. Good athlete, gets to wherever he wants to, gets to his spots, can finish at the rim, can finish over the rim and do a little bit of everything. He really is a three-level scorer and a threat to do a little bit of everything on the court. Really excited to get with him every day and continue to unlock his game, moving forward. This was from a big tournament in Vegas over the summer that he was one of the better players at. And you see, head’s always up, seeing his teammates, not concerned about scoring, but really wants to make his teammates better and help those guys improve.
“He can score out of the post. He can operate out of the post at his size as well. He’s going to be a guy that we can create a lot of mismatches for, and be a really hard matchup here in the ACC. Here you see a little bit of a fadeaway against a smaller guard. Him being able to play the point guard position at that size and doing some different stuff against smaller guards is going to be huge.
“Very good shooter. I think that’s another thing that he doesn’t get probably enough credit for, but he can really shoot the basketball, can make mid-range pull-ups, can shoot the ball from three. You’ll see a bunch off the dribble. People are going to have some challenges in guarding him off ball screens, because of his ability to shoot the basketball there off those screens. You’re not going to be able to go under. You’re going have play different types of coverages, because he’s a threat at all those levels.
“Really good, competitive, active defender. Playing at that high level, both in high school and AAU, just that competitive nature. When those games turn up a notch and he’s playing in the big moment, he wants to be the guy guarding the basketball and does a great job in those moments. We’re excited to add him to our culture of toughness and competitiveness that we’re trying to lay the groundwork for with this year’s team.”
Shrewsberry on Mohammed’s fit as a passer:
“An ideal roster for me, we play four guards. Four guards that can all do the same exact thing. They can handle the ball, they can pass the ball, they can shoot the ball. Sir’s IQ and passing sets him apart at such a young stage. He is a very mature person. He's a very mature basketball player at 18 years old. When teams try and do different things or try and come up with different game plans. he's one of those guys that's on the court who can see it ahead of time and can help everybody else get to their spots and understand that.
“These guys really fit together. I'm all about versatility and skill. Now we want to start adding skill with size. That's what we've added in this class. All three guys are really skilled, but they're bigger. Sir’s 6-6. Cole’s a lot bigger than people think. People don't think he's very big until you see him in person. He’s 6-5. He’s almost 6-6. He is a tall dude with long arms. Garrett's huge. He’s 6-11, like every bit of it. Now you start to add that and that helps our defensive versatility when you have that size and length.”
Three-star guard Cole Certa
Junior stats: 26.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists for a Bloomington (Ill.) Central Catholic team that finished with a 26-12 record and as the IHSA Class 2A state runner-up.
Rivals ranking: No. 41 shooting guard.
Commitment date: May 4, 2023.
Notable offers: Illinois, Northwestern, Nebraska, Butler and Drake.
Assistant coach Ryan Owens on Certa:
“Cole Certa is coming to us from IMG Academy, originally from Illinois at Bloomington Central Catholic High School. Also played for the well-respected Illinois Wolves Under Armour program in the summer. High-level person, first and foremost. He’s one of those kids when he walks into the room, the room glows brighter. He smiles a lot. He has a great energy about himself. He's going to fit perfectly into the Notre Dame community both on the court and off the court. He comes from a basketball family. His mother, Kim, and his father, Tony, hooped at Quincy University. He comes from a high basketball pedigree. He's going to do a great job here.
“We’re really excited about what he’s going to provide to us. He’s going to provide instant spacing on the basketball court. He has the ability to space the court, which allows everybody else to have more room to operate. He’s a world-class, elite shooter. We felt like we got the best shooter in the country coming to Notre Dame next year in the ‘24 class.
“He can shoot it off the bounce. He can shoot it off the catch. He can shoot it off the move. He can cut with pace and shoot it. This year, you can see as he has the ball in his hands right there, he’s a rhythm shooter as well. He’s a gym rat, high IQ, very competitive young man with a deep range. You can see him coming off using a ball screen, pulling up and shooting with confidence. There’s always a place on the team for world-class shooting.
“That’s one of the best things about him and what he's doing right now. He’s at IMG. He's training with some of the best down there. He's practicing with the best. They have a great coaching staff down there. He's getting that world-class nutrition on a daily basis. He has access to facilities at all times. Cole’s one of the individuals who is going to take advantage of the resources there at IMG just like he’s going to do fantastic things for us here at Notre Dame.”
Three-star forward Garrett Sundra
Junior stats: Unknown stats for a Paul VI Catholic team that finished with a 31-4 record and a state championship.
Rivals ranking: No. 33 power forward.
Commitment date: August 10, 2023.
Notable offers: Miami, Providence, Virginia Tech and Butler.
Associate head coach Kyle Getter or Sundra:
“First off, Garrett is really a unique player. He’s 6-11, but he has a skill set that is kind of the modern-day, stretch forward. He comes from Paul VI High School. He plays for coach Glenn Farello. Unbelievable high school, great tradition, knows how to win. He played for Team Takeover. Keith Stevens, Jamill Jones do a great job running Team Takeover on the Nike circuit. They’ve won the Peach Jam the last two year. He just knows how to win. Playing at a high level of competition in both those environments has really benefitted him. He knows what it’s like to compete against the best. His upside is through the roof.
“His versatility is really what stands out. He runs the floor extremely well, moves laterally, very fluid mover at 6-11, can cut off the ball. He can score off dump-downs, can score in the post. He does a lot of things very, very well. He’s going to certainly take advantage of spending time with [strength] coach Greg Miskinis the next few years in getting stronger and getting acclimated to the ACC level of physicality. But he’s played against some of the best players in the country, whether it’s been on the AAU circuit or in high school. He’ll come well-prepared to help us right away. His ability to shoot the floor at 6-11, the way we want to play, with five out — Coach loves shooting — he certainly adds that aspect to our program right away.”
Shrewsberry on where Sundra will improve:
“In a lot of areas. He'll get stronger. I'm not concerned with that. As he gets stronger, he's going to be able to play a lot of different positions. His ability to run, his ability to move stands out. Those are things that I look for in recruiting. He can guard people around the basket. He can switch and guard people on the perimeter. He can run past big fellas on the perimeter. There's a lot of areas that he's going to be able to grow. His ball handling will always improve. He's pretty good attacking close outs and bigger guys and everything else.
“Just giving him more responsibility and opening things up for him even more. It’s hard for him. He doesn't get a lot of opportunities. He plays on a really good high school team and AAU team. He doesn’t get opportunities to show off everything he can do. He always improves with strength, but I don't think he necessarily needs strength to be a good player. He's a good player right now as he is and he's only going to keep growing. He gets better in all areas as he gets more confident, too.”
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