Notre Dame men’s basketball team holds first official practice

Freshman guard JJ Starling ready to shine
Published: Jul. 20, 2022 at 10:40 AM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - The Notre Dame men’s basketball team held its first official practice on Tuesday morning at Rolfs Athletics Hall, and all eyes were on an impact freshman who is hoping to fill the shoes of Blake Wesley.

JJ Starling is a five-star freshman from La Lumiere School in LaPorte. He’s part of a busy roster at the guard position. But in his first practice, he impressed head coach Mike Brey.

Like Wesley, who was drafted last month by the San Antonio Spurs, Starling has the support of the older guys like Dane Goodwin and Cormac Ryan.

“What helps him fitting in with older guys, and it’s no different, it’s a similar dynamic to Blake fitting in with old guys last year,” Brey said. “He’s really easy to play with. Here, he’s led us in assists a couple times. I think he’s got the body to get to the bucket, too. He gets to the paint and makes plays. He loves to defend. He’s very ready and those three old guys know they need him. A similar dynamic to old guys needing and know they needed Blake.”

Starling is expected to be a big-time scorer for the Irish this season. But there’s a different element to his game that’s not talked about, and it could allow for high-scoring games for the Irish.

“I have been impressed continually with how good of a passer he is,” Brey said. “I did not know that.”

“I’ve been able to improve on that, and that’s what I showed here, being able to pass to my teammates and they’re knocking down shots,” Starling said. “I’d rather get a teammate a shot than score. I love scoring, obviously. Who doesn’t? But at the same time, I love getting my teammates the basket and open looks.”

Meanwhile, Ryan injured what appeared to be his ankle at the end of practice. There is no word yet on the severity of the injury, or how much time he’ll need to miss.

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