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If it’s a class of one, is it still a class or is it just one?
Either way, coach Niele Ivey and Notre Dame women’s basketball could end up with that many first-year draft picks for the second year in a row.
She doesn’t seem too worried.
Ivey was smiling broadly Thursday afternoon after shooting guard Emma Risch from Melbourne, Florida, signed a letter of intent a day earlier to join the Irish next season.
Plus:Did Notre Dame women’s basketball win its imaginary off-season trade? Probably
Also, the trainer wasn’t ruling out Risch having company soon within the ND recruiting class of 2023.
“It’s open until next Wednesday,” Ivey said of the NCAA’s eight-day window for early signers, “so we’ll see what happens. My staff and I have worked very hard. I feel like we’ve identified some great talent, so normally with this time frame, (sometimes) you have to wait until the end.”
While Ivey isn’t allowed to speak publicly about unsigned players, the Irish are seen as remaining in the mix for at least two other top prospects: point guard Hannah Hidalgo of Haddonsville, NJ, and 6-year-old forward Cassandre. feet 2 inches. Prosper from Quebec, Canada.
The wily and quick Hidalgo, 5-6, ranked No. 5 nationally by ESPN, might not reveal her decision until the last day of the opening period. Central Florida, Duke, Ohio State, Michigan and Stanford are other finalists.
Prosper, ranked 16th in the class by ESPN, has shared on Instagram that she will announce her choice on Saturday at 8 p.m. In addition to ND, she has been linked to the defending national champion from South Carolina, Arizona, Duke and North Carolina.
Even if the Irish don’t land either of them, there won’t necessarily be cause for panic.
One reason is that only two current players in shooting guard Dara Mabrey and center Lauren Ebo are scheduled to exhaust their eligibility after this season.
Another reason is that the transfer portal is likely to still have many options.
Ivey used that route to get Maya Dodson before last season, and Dodson ended up being a perfect fit. Three more signings came this year in Ebo, Kylee Watson and Jenna Brown.
Ivey says he will explore the portal again next April as needed after the NCAA Tournament is over.
“That’s usually when I dive deep into what we need,” Ivey said.
One need, the outside shot, has been addressed well, according to the coach with the landing of Risch, who slots into the long-range role currently filled by Mabrey.
“I was looking for a pure shooter,” Ivey said, “and Emma is one of the best shooters I’ve seen, to be honest, since Alicia Ratay.”
Ratay was a teammate of Ivey on the 2001 ND national title team and completed her career in 2003 as the NCAA’s all-time leader in career 3-point percentage at 47.6.
“She’s that talented,” Ivey said of Risch. “She’s got deep range, she’s got incredible size (for a 6-2 guard) and she’s extremely bright, she’s got a high IQ.”
“Wake up the echoes!” Risch tweeted on Thursday, along with eight shamrock emojis, as he reposted ND’s announcement that he had signed.
A year ago, Risch was ranked 64th on ESPN’s list, but in a recent update, it shot up to 20th, putting her among the 24 players identified as five stars.
Risch rates even higher at No. 15 on the Prospects Nation list (with No. 9 Hidalgo and No. 21 Prosper).
According to Ivey, Risch possesses “elite vision. Her size and her ability to score at all three levels set her apart and will translate to college basketball right away.”
If Risch ends up being ND’s only scholarship freshman next fall, it will be a repeat of the current season, when Ohio’s two-time Ms. Basketball KK Bransford came in as the only recruit in the class of 2022. Bransford it was No. 29 on ESPN’s list and No. 20 with Prospects Nation.
Nut:Will Notre Dame be among the elite of the elite in women’s college basketball again?
Risch averaged 20.5 points, 6.9 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.1 steals while leading Palm Bay Magnet High in Melbourne to a 20-6 record as a junior last season.
He scored 101 of 224 in triples for 45.1% and 39 of 42 in the line for 92.9%.
Risch also paced the Pirates in scoring as a sophomore when he closed at 17.8 for a Class 5A state runner-up club that finished 23-4. He added 5.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 3.0 steals, to accompany 88 of 228 from distance (38.6%) and 33 of 38 in free throws (86.8%).
“I feel like I’m really building something special,” said Ivey, his focus still on quality over quantity. “Getting some amazing pieces, and not just talent, but great people, great character off the court, so I’m excited for our new additions and excited to continue to grow this family.”