Freshman duo look to make immediate impact for Irish

NOTRE DAME, Ind. (WNDU) - The Notre Dame women's basketball team lost six players to the WNBA draft last season, leaving big shoes to fill.

Now the question is, who will be this team's big playmakers? It could be Anaya Peoples and Sam Brunelle.

Peoples is a 5-foot, 10-inch freshman guard out of Illinois. She was ranked the 21st overall player in the 2019 recruiting class and the No. 4 guard.

She competed with the U18 national team in 2018, winning a gold medal in the process.

"I think you have to look at the freshmen right away," head coach Muffet McGraw said. "Anaya Peoples, I think, is playing really well. She’s somebody that’s doing so many different things. Got a lot of versatility, she can score in a lot of different ways, and she’s our best defender."

"I’m feeling really excited," Peoples said. "Practice has been so smooth lately. All the girls have just been encouraging and just helpful. We’re looking pretty good. I’m excited to finally play in some games."

Peoples could be dishing it a lot to Sam Brunelle waiting underneath.

Brunelle is a 6-foot, 2-inch forward out of Virginia and ranked as the No. 6 overall recruit. In some polls, she was considered the No. 1 recruit. She was the Virginia player of the year in 2018 and won four medals competing with Team USA.

Both young players want to make an immediate impact for the Irish.

"Sam Brunelle, both of our freshmen are really playing well," McGraw said. "Sam is our best shooter, best 3-point shooter with her size. I think she can do a lot of different things."

"Just try to play my game," Brunelle said. "That’s what all of us try to do, is play our game, is play Notre Dame basketball. The coaches have such great confidence in all of us and our abilities, and that just feeds into the confidence booster. I think we’re all just getting very comfortable with each other and with everything that we’re doing."

The Irish begin their season on the road at Fordham on Nov. 5.