NOTRE DAME, Ind. University of Notre Dame head women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw announced Thursday that three of the nation’s top high school student-athletes have chosen to continue their academic and athletic careers with the Fighting Irish, each signing a National Letter of Intent to attend Notre Dame beginning in the fall of 2014. Mychal Johnson, a 5-8 guard from Huntington, W.Va. (Huntington St. Joseph High School), Brianna Turner, a 6-3 forward from Pearland, Texas (Manvel High School) and Kathryn Westbeld, a 6-2 forward from Kettering, Ohio (Kettering Fairmont High School) all made their official commitments to the Fighting Irish during the early signing period that began Wednesday and continues through Nov. 20.
All three student-athletes are rated among the top 20 players in the country by Blue Star Basketball (including the nation’s top-ranked player in Turner), while the Notre Dame incoming class has been ranked as high as No. 3 in the nation by All-Star Girls Report, with all major recruiting outlets having the Fighting Irish class among the top six in the land (No. 5 by espnW Hoopgurlz and Dan Olson Collegiate Girls Basketball Report, No. 6 by Blue Star Basketball and Prospects Nation). It’s the third consecutive top-10 class for Notre Dame (final class rankings will come out following the early signing period), all but assuring the Fighting Irish will have a Top 25 recruiting class for the 18th consecutive year, a streak only two other schools in the country (Connecticut and Tennessee) can match.
“I couldn’t be happier to have Mychal, Brianna and Kathryn joining us at Notre Dame next year,” McGraw said. “When you lose three senior starters from your roster, you’d better have a good class coming in to replace them, and we certainly do have that. These are three outstanding players coming in and I can’t wait to see how they’re going to fit into our system.
“All of the credit for this year’s class has to go to my amazing staff of (associate head coach) Carol Owens, (associate coach) Beth Cunningham and (assistant coach) Niele Ivey,” McGraw added. “Niele is our recruiting coordinator and she’s one of the best in the country, if not the best in the country. She is just outstanding at what she does. She’s an incredibly hard work, great at networking, she knows talent, she can see it and then she can recruit it because she’s so much fun to be around. People want to come here and hang around with her. She’s a great coach and a great recruiter. Of course, you have Carol, the best post coach in the country. If you want to play the post position, you’re going to want to be coached by Carol Owens. Then there’s Beth, and who could be better to work with our wings? She’s an outstanding shooter and has played the game at a very high level, so she can really help our wings.”
“Turner gives Notre Dame yet another truly elite recruit,” said Bret McCormick, analyst for All-Star Girls Report. “She is a versatile player who could fill a number of roles. Westbeld is a four-three player who is very skilled. She can rebound, she has a great feel for the game, and she will have a great career in South Bend. Johnson is a true point guard with a high basketball IQ.”
“Notre Dame’s 2014 signing class is impressive for the players coming in, but I think the bigger story here is this is three straight years with one of the best classes in the country,” added Chris Hansen, managing editor for Prospects Nation. “Coach McGraw has signed our No. 6 class to date after signing our No. 4 class in both 2012 and 2013. You see depth across the rosters with the nine players signed (in those three years), which bodes well for the team on the court as the team should be without any glaring weakness.”
“Coach McGraw and her staff have pulled in a group of young women coming to South Bend that are not only high in basketball ability but even stronger character,” noted Chris Mennig, national evaluator for Blue Star Basketball. “Presently standing as our No. 6 recruiting class in the country, this marks the third straight top-10 ranked class that will give the Fighting Irish the firepower needed to stay atop the national scene in women’s basketball.”
Ranked No. 6 in this week’s Associated Press and Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)/USA Today polls, Notre Dame (2-0) returns to action at 2 p.m. (ET) Saturday when it plays host to Valparaiso at Purcell Pavilion. Prior to the game, former Fighting Irish four-time All-America point guard and South Bend native Skylar Diggins (’13) will be inducted into Notre Dame’s Ring of Honor — fans are encouraged to be in their seats by 1:30 p.m. (ET) in order to enjoy the induction ceremony.
Individual tickets for 2013-14 Notre Dame women’s basketball home games are on sale through the Murnane Family Ticket Office by calling (574) 631-7356, visiting the ticket windows inside Gate 9 (the Rosenthal Atrium) at Purcell Pavilion, or by going on-line to the official Fighting Irish athletics ticketing web page (UND.com/buytickets). Ticket availability may be limited for some games, so fans are advised to make their purchases in advance when possible.
For more information on the Notre Dame women’s basketball program, sign up to follow the Fighting Irish women’s basketball Twitter pages (@ndwbbsid or @ndwbb), like the program on Facebook (facebook.com/ndwbb) or register for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the “Fan Center” pulldown menu on the front page at UND.com.