Notre Dame women's basketball
UPDATE: Notre Dame women's basketball: Irish land top recruit Turner
Brianna Turner committed to play at Notre Dame. (Photo provided/HOUSTON CHRONICLE / February 24, 2012)
“Gregory called out to her, ‘I dare you to dunk it,’” Harris said. “And she did it. She just threw it down.”
Turner made the hearts of Notre Dame women’s basketball fans soar on Friday the way she soared for her dunk. Ranked the No. 1 recruit in the nation by fullcourt.com and No. 3 by ESPN’s Hoopgurlz, Turner an-nounced her intentions to attend Notre Dame and play basketball for the Irish.
Turner joins an Irish class that includes point guard Mychal Johnson of West Virginia, who is ranked No. 27 in the nation by Hoopgurlz. Notre Dame also has a guard for the Class of 2015, Ali Patberg of Columbus (Ind.) North, who is ranked No. 10 in the nation by All-Star Report.
Notre Dame scored a huge victory on the recruiting front Friday with Turner’s verbal commitment. She chose the Irish over Connecticut, Baylor, Stanford, Texas and Duke. She averaged 20.8 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.7 as-sists, 3.5 steals and 3.5 blocks last year as Manvel finished the season 33-4.
As a sophomore, Turner averaged 20.4 points, 10.2 rebounds and 4.7 blocks. In her freshman season, she led Westbury Christian High School to a state title, averaging 18.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.3 blocks. Turner has won two gold medals playing for Team USA U-17 and U-18.
Turner’s family boasts impressive athletic legacies. Her father, Howard, played basketball at Lamar Univer-sity, and her mother, Kellye, played basketball at the University of Houston. Her uncle, Shannon Jones, played linebacker for the University of Southern California.
“My wife and I are extremely proud of her,” Howard Turner said of Brianna’s decision to play for Notre Dame. “We’re really glad that she has this opportunity. She worked hard and put herself in a position where she basically could choose to go to school anywhere in the country to further her education and play basketball.
“She chose Notre Dame. I think, as parents, we did our research, and we did not want her to make a rushed decision. Notre Dame has an excellent coaching staff, an excellent history, and the school itself is all about aca-demics. My wife and I push academics over basketball.”
Brianna Turner said that her education was a priority in her decision.
“The academics at Notre Dame are great,” she said. “Even in Texas, you hear so much about Notre Dame and its academics. That’s crazy.”
According to Turner, Notre Dame was a perfect fit for her.
“Coach McGraw and her staff, they have so much experience,” Turner said. “Two of her assistants were head coaches at one time. That gives her staff a lot of experience.
“Notre Dame has been to the Final Four three years in a row, and their success in the Big East Tournament shows you that they have a great program. I loved the campus when I had my visit. The players all seemed very genuine. They didn’t seem like they were forced to talk to me. They wanted to get to know me. They were real friendly. I liked that.”
Turner added that the competition of the Atlantic Coast Conference, which will include battles against North Carolina, Duke, Florida State and Miami, influenced her decision.
“I think the ACC will be one of the best conferences with the addition of Notre Dame,” Turner said. “There’s going to be great competition in the conference. It’s really going to prepare us for the NCAA Tournament.”
Harris said that Turner is an exceptional student who is on track for an honors diploma. He said that she is humble, an outstanding leader, and has been a great teammate. On the court, Turner brings an amazing skill set.
“Brianna is kind of like a hybrid,” Harris said. “She can run the point, she can shoot it, she can run the 3. Her best position at Notre Dame is probably going to be a 3 or a 4. She can handle the ball. She can post up with her back to the basket. She can break the press if she needs to. She’s definitely a diamond.
“Brianna’s 6-foot-3, and she’s so long, so there’s some genes there, but you walk into the gym, and she’s working hard for two or three hours a day. What makes her go is her work ethic. She wants to get better. She wants to be the best player in the country.”
Staff writer Curt Rallo: email@example.com | 574-235-6152