Nov. 9, 2011
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- Notre Dame head women's basketball coach Muffet McGraw announced Wednesday that three of the country'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 2012. Hannah Huffman, a 5-9 guard from Diablo, Calif. (Carondelet High School), Jewell Loyd, a 5-10 guard from Lincolnwood, Ill. (Niles West High School) and Michaela Mabrey, a 5-10 guard from Belmar, N.J. (Manasquan High School), all made their official commitments to the Fighting Irish during the early signing period, which began Wednesday and continues through Nov. 16.
All three student-athletes are rated among the top 40 players in the country by various national recruiting services. As a group, this trio currently is ranked as high as No. 3 in the nation by both ESPN Hoopgurlz and All-Star Girls Report, and it's a consensus top-10 class by all major recruiting outlets (final class rankings will come out following the early signing period), all but assuring Notre Dame will have a Top 25 class for the 16th consecutive year, a streak only two other schools in the country (Connecticut and Tennessee) can match.
"This is a great class we have coming in," McGraw said. "We've got to replace some great perimeter players in Natalie Novosel and Brittany Mallory in this class, and the players we have coming in, I couldn't be more excited about them. They fill the needs that we had, they're tremendous basketball players, and they've won championships, either in high school or AAU ball. We want players that know how to win and these three certainly know all about that. They're all going to contribute immediately, particularly with four seniors graduating off this year's team, and it'll be tough to replace that experience, but I think these three are capable of doing it. We can't wait to have them join our program and our University next year."
"Coming on the heels of an NCAA tournament run that fell just short of an NCAA national championship, (McGraw) managed to take the momentum from a successful season and use it on the recruiting trail," said Chris Hansen, National Director of Prospects for ESPN Hoopgurlz. "As a result, the Fighting Irish were able to put together a trio of perimeter players that should provide plenty of firepower and will help them stay towards the top of the national ranks for years to come."
"Notre Dame has a chance to compete for the national championship this year, and with the class they're going to have coming in next year, they've really just reloaded," said Bret McCormick, analyst for All-Star Girls Report. "All three of these Class of 2012 players are great skill athletes, terrific shooters and fit very well within the system that Muffet has at Notre Dame. They should keep the Fighting Irish rolling right along well into the future."
Ranked No. 2 in both the preseason Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today coaches' polls, Notre Dame will tip off its 2011-12 season at 7 p.m. (ET) Friday when it plays host to Akron in the first round of the Preseason Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) inside Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center. At that game, the Fighting Irish will hold several special events associated with Veterans Day, including a tribute to members of the Armed Forces, as part of the overall theme of "Proud To Be An American Night."
Single-game tickets for all Notre Dame women's basketball games in 2011-12 are on sale through the Murnane Family Ticket Office by calling (574) 631-7356 or 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 (www.UND.com/tickets).
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 @notredamewbb) or register for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the "Fan Center" pulldown menu on the front page at UND.com.
A capsule look at the three newest additions to the Fighting Irish women's basketball program follows:
HANNAH HUFFMAN, 5-9, Guard (Diablo, Calif./Carondelet High School)
Statistics/Records: Beginning her fourth year at Carondelet High School (combined record of 85-14, .859) in Concord, Calif., where she is coached by Margaret Gartner ... career per-game statistical averages of 11.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.7 steals ... on pace to become school's all-time leader in assists and No. 2 all-time scorer behind former Stanford/current WNBA center Jayne Appel ... in three seasons at Carondelet, has helped team reach California Interscholastic Federation Division I (large school) state finals twice before falling to nation's top-ranked team (2009 - Brea Olinda HS, 2010 - Mater Dei HS) and also made Division I state semifinals once (2011) ... team also won Division I NorCal (Northern California) and North Coast Section (NCS) titles in 2009 and 2010, and finished as runners-up for both crowns in 2011, while winning three East Bay Athletic League championships and posting a 41-1 league record in that time (2009-11) ... as a junior in 2010-11, helped Carondelet to 29-4 record and No. 20 national ranking by MaxPreps while averaging 16.3 ppg., 6.3 rpg., 3.6 apg., 3.5 spg. and 1.2 bpg. (led team in scoring, assists and steals, finished second in rebounds and blocks) ... shot 53-percent from the floor, including 48-percent from three-point line, both of which also were team highs ... averaged 31.0 ppg. in final three games of state tournament, including a game-high 30 points in NorCal Division I championship game vs. Berkeley ... team also finished as runner-up at West Coast Christmas Jamboree (nation's largest high school tournament; fell by two points to Long Beach Poly in Platinum Division final) ... as sophomore in 2009-10, helped team to a 27-6 record while averaging 10.0 ppg., 4.2 rpg., 3.9 apg., and 2.3 spg., and shooting 48-percent from the field ... as freshman in 2008-09, contributed to 29-4 squad by averaging 9.0 ppg., 3.0 rpg., 3.0 apg. and 2.2 spg., with a 53-percent shooting accuracy from the field ... has played alongside three current NCAA Division I players during her prep career - Erica Payne (Stanford), Ricki Radanovich (Santa Clara) and Erin Boettcher (Portland) ... played for high-powered East Bay Xplosion AAU team and coach Mark Anger, with most notable summer tournament title during her career coming at 2009 Deep South Classic in Chapel Hill, N.C. ... AAU program has produced numerous other current/former NCAA Division I players including Appel, Courtney and Ashley Paris (Oklahoma), Jacki Gemelos (USC), Danielle Robinson (Oklahoma) and Alex Cowlings (Loyola Marymount).
Awards/Honors: Sporting News honorable mention All-American (2011) ... NorCal Preps/Rivals.com Northern California Division I Player of the Year (2011) ... consensus all-state selection in 2011 (first team by Cal-Hi Sports/ESPN Rise; second team by MaxPreps) ... three-time first-team all-state choice in her class by Cal-Hi Sports/ESPN Rise (2009 as freshman, 2010 as sophomore, 2011 as junior) ... 2011 first-team all-region pick by NorCal Preps/Rivals.com ... 2011 San Francisco Chronicle Contra Costa/Tri-Valley Player of the Year ... 2011 San Francisco Chronicle first-team all-metro selection ... two-time Contra Costa Times All-East Bay honoree (first team in 2011; third team in 2010) ... 2011 East Bay Athletic League Co-Most Valuable Player ... three-time all-EBAL choice (first team in 2010 and 2011; second team in 2009) ... ranked 27th by All-Star Girls Report ... ranked 52nd by ESPN Hoopgurlz ... ranked 63rd by Blue Star Basketball ... ranked 91st by Collegiate Girls Basketball Report.
Personal Data: Born June 9, 1994, in Walnut Creek, Calif. ... daughter of Kim and Lon Huffman ... has younger brother, Joe ... father, Lon, is a 1986 graduate of Notre Dame and played golf for the Fighting Irish for three seasons (1984-86) under head coach Noel O'Sullivan, helping Notre Dame win four tournaments and finish in top three at Midwestern Collegiate Conference (now Horizon League) Championships all three years, including runner-up finish in 1986 ... will become seventh California resident to sign with Notre Dame women's basketball program, and the first since 2007, when Rancho Cucamonga native Crystal Erwin graduated ... will be first full-time member of Fighting Irish from northern California since 1984, when Davis resident Dava Newman played for Notre Dame (although in 1997, student manager Christy Grady, a Lodi native, supplemented an injury-riddled Fighting Irish roster by suiting up for a handful of postseason games during Notre Dame's run to the NCAA Women's Final Four).
Coach McGraw on Huffman...
"To me, Hannah is kind of a toss-up between Natalie Novosel and Brittany Mallory in terms of her style of play. She has the great parts of both of their games. She's going to be a glue player because she's just so smart, a real heady guard who can handle the ball, direct things and be a calming influence on our team. She can score in so many different ways -- she can go in and post up, she can score from the perimeter and she can shoot the three. She is someone who is going to add a lot to our offense."
Chris Hansen (National Director of Prospects, ESPN Hoopgurlz) on Huffman...
"Hannah Huffman has strong leadership skills and is the type of player that can play within a system or step up in key moments and carry her team. At the guard position, she is physical and defends, and she has played all three perimeter positions throughout her high school career."
ESPN Hoopgurlz recent evaluation of Huffman...
"Solid build with impressive strength that she's more than willing to use. Utilizes textbook fundamentals to create her own looks as well as set up teammate's opportunities. Attacks smoothly with an effective hesitation move and can finish at the rim or with a short fallaway. Reads the floor well and makes good decisions. Has constantly advanced her game and can be an impact player in the right system."
Bret McCormick (Analyst, All-Star Girls Report) on Huffman...
"Huffman is another West Coast kid with a great fundamental base. She has that balanced skill set and is a physically strong guard. She's also good off the dribble, shoots the ball very well and has the versatility to be able to play a number of positions."
All-Star Girls Report evaluation of Huffman...
"Good quicks; strong body; gets to the basket; nice pull up J; very tough off of the bounce; nice shot; shoots 3; changes speeds on the dribble; plays aggressive; good feel for the game."
Collegiate Girls Basketball Report evaluation of Huffman...
"Fundamental, deceptively athletic off-guard with strong frame; midrange producer off the bounce; consistent to the arc, soft touch elevates on jumper; smooth in transition."
JEWELL LOYD, 5-10, Guard (Lincolnwood, Ill./Niles West High School)
Statistics/Records: Entering her fourth year as a starter at Niles West High School (combined record of 71-22, .763) in Skokie, Ill., where she is coached by Tony Konsewicz ... career per-game statistical averages of 25.0 points, 11.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 4.0 steals and 3.3 blocks ...begins senior year with 2,241 career points, and could become just seventh player in Illinois girls' basketball history to score 3,000 points (only the third in 20 years) ... already holds school records in virtually all game, season and career categories ... as a junior in 2010-11, helped Niles West to a 22-9 record and a spot in Illinois Class 4A sectional final ... averaged 30.1 ppg., 15.0 rpg., 4.5 spg., 4.1 apg. and 3.2 bpg., while registering 24 double-doubles (including one triple-double) and shooting 53-percent from the field ... had five 40-point games as a junior, including career-high 46 points against St. Francis ... as a sophomore in 2009-10, sparked team to 27-6 record and trip to Class 4A Elite Eight (supersectionals), as well as a share of school's first Central Suburban League (CSL) title since 1985 ... averaged 22.8 ppg., 12.2 rpg., 3.6 apg., 2.1 spg. and 2.0 bpg. ... as a freshman in 2008-09, paced team to 22-7 record and berth in Class 4A regional final ... averaged 19.0 ppg., 5.0 rpg., 3.0 bpg. and 2.0 spg. ... has been standout on the AAU circuit, playing for Midwest Elite (formerly Full Package) and coach Ralph Gesualdo (the same AAU program and coach that produced current Notre Dame freshman guard Whitney Holloway) ... has helped AAU teams to 189-10 record in her career, with per-game statistical averages of 24.0 points, 11.0 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 4.3 steals and 3.0 blocks ... led Midwest Elite to four titles during summer 2010 AAU season -- U.S. Junior Nationals in Washington, D.C., USJN Mid-America Challenge (Champaign, Ill.), USJN Premier Invitational (Cincinnati, Ohio) and USJN Summer Final (Chicago) ... team also finished as runner-up at Nike Summer Showcase in Chicago.
USA Basketball: Member of 2010 USA Basketball Under-17 World Championship Team that went 8-0 and captured the gold medal at the inaugural FIBA U17 World Championships in Toulouse, France ... averaged 8.6 points and 4.0 rebounds per game while shooting .460 from the field and .353 from the three-point line ... also participated in 2009 USA Basketball U16 National Team Trials.
Awards/Honors: MaxPreps honorable mention All-American (2011) ... ESPN Rise Underclass All-American (2010) ... three-time all-state selection (2010 and 2011 - first team; 2009 - second team, one of only two freshmen on the squad) ... three-time all-area pick (2009-11) ... Chicago Tribune Fabulous Freshman list (2009) ... three-time first-team all-conference choice (2009-11) ... attended Nike Skills Academy (2009) ... ranked No. 3 in Class of 2012 by Blue Star Basketball, All-Star Girls Report and Collegiate Girls Basketball Report ... ranked No. 4 by ESPN Hoopgurlz.
Personal Data: Born Oct. 5, 1993, in Chicago, Ill. ... daughter of Gwendolyn Davis-Loyd and Calvin Loyd ... has older brother, Jarryd, who currently is playing professional basketball in Romania after standout college career at Valparaiso University from 2004-08 ... will become 14th player from state of Illinois to suit up for Notre Dame, and the 13th to come from the Chicagoland area, a list that includes current Fighting Irish fifth-year senior forward Devereaux Peters (Chicago/Fenwick HS), junior guard Kaila Turner (Joliet/Marian Catholic HS) and freshman guard Whitney Holloway (Plainfield/Montini Catholic HS) ... off the court, she enjoys playing the piano and cooking and loves soccer.
Coach McGraw on Loyd...
"Jewell is just a phenomenal talent. The thing I like about Jewell is she continues to get better. I saw her in April, she was so much better in July, and I'm sure she's going to be better than that this season. There are great things in store for her. She is a very `hard-to-guard' player because she can score in so many ways. Her three-point shot looks great, and she can put it on the floor and can get to the rim. She can also really get off the floor and she's a great defender, so she can help us at both ends of the floor."
Chris Hansen (National Director of Prospects, ESPN Hoopgurlz) on Loyd...
"Notre Dame fans who love the passion and poise that Skylar Diggins plays with are going to be incredibly happy with the addition of Jewell Loyd. Her game is different than Diggins, but equally special at this point in her development. She has a unique blend of fiery competitiveness, elite athleticism and the intangibles coaches dream about, and it all leads to one word that describes Loyd -- winner."
ESPN Hoopgurlz evaluation of Loyd...
"Loyd is an elite talent. At times through her high school career she put up performances that were just simply impressive. She is a quality perimeter shooter and a very good playmaker off the bounce. Throughout her prep career we have seen Loyd strive as a point guard or on the wing. She is athletic enough to get out in transition and finish in traffic and skilled enough to create a high volume of shots in the half court for herself and others. In Loyd, Notre Dame is getting a special talent. She has that specialness to make plays that others cannot."
Bret McCormick (Analyst, All-Star Girls Report) on Loyd...
"Loyd hasn't scratched the surface. She could be freaky good in the mold of a Skylar Diggins. Loyd is a multiple position player and a tremendous athlete with a great skill set, and she's a solid defender, so she's a threat on both sides of the ball. She's the full package. What makes her special is that not only is she a great player, but she's a great person, too. She comes to play every time she laces up, and I believe she's going to make an impact right away."
Collegiate Girls Basketball Report evaluation of Loyd...
"Explosively athletic perimeter threat with range to the arc; triple-threat creator; gets to rim effectively; rebounds."
MICHAELA MABREY, 5-10, Guard (Belmar, N.J./Manasquan High School)
Statistics/Records: Beginning her fourth prep season, and third at Manasquan High School in Manasquan, N.J., where she is coached by Felix Romero ... career per-game statistical averages in two seasons at Manasquan HS of 24.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.8 steals ... has scored 1,545 points in her prep career ... has led the Shore Conference in scoring the past two seasons ... as a junior in 2010-11, averaged 23.4 ppg., 9.0 rpg., 5.9 apg. and 3.8 spg., while knocking down 42 three-pointers and .883 from the free throw line ... as sophomore in 2009-10, averaged 26.9 ppg., 9.5 rpg. and 3.4 apg. with .821 free throw percentage ... played her freshman season (2008-09) at St. John Vianney High School in Holmdel, N.J., averaging 12.0 ppg. and 5.0 apg. ... also sparkled on the AAU circuit, playing for New Jersey Demons and coach Rich Leary ... program won four state-level AAU tournaments and finished second once in summer of 2011.
Awards/Honors: 2011 second-team all-state selection ... 2011 all-metro (tri-state) first-team pick ... 2011 Coast Star Offensive Player of the Year ... 2010 Newark Star-Ledger Sophomore of the Year ... three-time all-region choice (2009-11) ... three-time all-conference selection (2009-11) ... made all-star teams at two AAU tournaments in summer of 2011 (U.S. Junior Nationals in Washington, D.C., and Lady Choz Fesitval), and was named to ESPN Hoopgurlz "Best of the Summer 2011" ... ranked 20th by Blue Star Basketball ... ranked 32nd by ESPN Hoopgurlz ... ranked 36th by All-Star Girls Report ... ranked 76th by Collegiate Girls Basketball Report.
Personal Data: Born March 28, 1994, in Red Bank, N.J. ... last name is pronounced MAH-bree ... daughter of Patti and Roy Mabrey ... second of five siblings ... older brother, Roy, is a freshman basketball player at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. ... will be the ninth New Jersey resident to join the Notre Dame women's basketball program, and the first in nearly two decades (Fighting Irish All-American guard/Turnersville native Karen Robinson played from 1987-91, followed closely by Keyport product Audrey Gomez from 1991-93) ... also a talented cook (recently was named Chef of the Month at her high school).
Coach McGraw on Mabrey...
"Michaela is a typical New Jersey player -- she is feisty and is going to be a little bit like (2011 graduate/team captain) Becca Bruszewski, in that she's going to go toe-to-toe with you and she's going to get her way. She is a relentless and fearless competitor. She's a great three-point shooter and people might think (1997 graduate/All-American) Beth Morgan or (2003 graduate/NCAA career three-point shooting record holder) Alicia Ratay when they see her shoot the ball. She's a big guard and someone who can play inside or out, but a great, great three-point shooter."
Chris Hansen (National Director of Prospects, ESPN Hoopgurlz) on Mabrey...
"Michaela Mabrey has good breakdown ability and can shoot the three. She has the skills and confidence to play either guard position and play it well."
ESPN Hoopgurlz recent evaluations of Mabrey...
"The 5-10 Mabrey continues to impress with her aggressive overture and ability to produce points. She is masterful at breaking down a defender. Not often will you see her forced any particular direction as she is skillful enough to keep the defense on its heels. And if not to keep them on their heels, then dropping a jumper in their faces, as she did time and time again from beyond the arc ...
"If the key to a player's success is effectiveness, then (Mabrey) is the epitome of the word. With the ball in her hands, she can create offense off the drive, the pull up or the long ball unlike many players you've seen. Her ability to finish any shot with a defender virtually glued to her face is uncanny and even had a few opponents smiling in spite of themselves. While no one specific skill or physical aspect of her game may set her apart, it's the sum of all her skills that makes her such a threat. In addition, her focus and relentless approach may set a new standard. She creates off the dribble effectively and utilizes and reads screens like a Rhodes Scholar. She may just be the kind of player you'd much rather play with than against."
Bret McCormick (Analyst, All-Star Girls Report) on Mabrey...
"She's very fundamental, smart player who knows the game . The thing about Mabrey is that she's definitely a shooter and a scorer. When you put her on the floor with the others Notre Dame has coming in, they're going to be so hard to guard because of all of these great shooters."
All-Star Girls Report evaluation of Mabrey...
"Good athlete; fundamental; good passer; pull up J; shoots deep 3; SHOOTER; smart player; good feel for the game; plays hard; SCORER."
Collegiate Girls Basketball Report evaluation of Mabrey...
"Fundamental perimeter threat with long, solid frame; good handles; creates own shot; consistent deep threat to the arc; scorer's mentality; superb release point on jumper."