After a four-year NCAA Event hiatus, Mike Brey and the Notre-Dame males’s basketball group wish to preserve the constructive momentum from breaking that streak and coming one defensive rebound away from a Candy Sixteen berth. Their pursuit of one other Massive Dance look in 2023 will probably be aided by (no less than) 4 new Irish faces: JJ Starling, Ven Allen Lubin, Dom Campbelland Marcus Hammond.
Of these names, the headliner is Starling. By 247Sports Composite, 5 5-star recruits are becoming a member of the ACC out of highschool subsequent season. 4 are going to Duke; Starling is the fifth. What’s extra, the 6-foot-4 Baldwinsville, NY native is an unanimous five-star among the many main recruiting companies.
To get to know this incoming crop of Irish hoopers, we’re kicking off a collection of movie breakdowns starting with Starling. Let’s get it began.
Starling blossomed towards upgraded competitors after transferring to La Lumiere Faculty in La Porte, IN to complete his highschool profession. La Lumiere is a member of the Nationwide Interscholastic Basketball Convention (NIBC). In its inaugural season, the NIBC featured a collection of video games between its eight prestigious members, amongst them La Lu, Montverde Academy, Oak Hill Academy, Dawn Christian Academy and IMG Academy.
As a senior at La Lu, Starling averaged 17.8 factors on 49% taking pictures from the sphere and 35% from three because the lakers went 6-4 within the NIBC. Starling’s manufacturing was ok to earn him a spot on this yr’s McDonald’s All-American Recreation.
If I needed to describe Starling’s recreation in a single phrase, it might in all probability be “polished.” It isn’t as if he is pretty much as good as he’ll ever be, however his mechanics are sharp and he has versatility as each a main ball-handler and an off-ball participant.
However above all else, Starling’s best offensive aspect is attacking off the bounce. He’s elite at beating opponents along with his dribble and has an array of ending strikes as soon as he will get to the inside.
Starling has additionally proven promise as a distributor as soon as the protection collapses on him, though his first inclination is often to discover a approach to get his shot off across the protection. That is comprehensible contemplating he is superb at ending. Like, superb.
Offensive prowess is what made Starling a McDonald’s All-American and five-star recruit. My humble recommendation? House the ground with shooters, get him in isolation or decide and roll conditions and let him do the remainder. Good issues will in all probability occur.
Not like his offensive contributions, Starling in all probability will not transfer the needle considerably in both course on the defensive aspect of the ball. He is not essentially a legal responsibility defensively, however he isn’t a distinction maker.
He would not harass ball-handlers or soar passing lanes notably nicely. He additionally would not often slide over and take fees or try to dam photographs when enjoying assist protection. That is not essentially a foul factor if he is making an attempt to keep away from foolish fouls. However, greater than something, Starling is simply type of there defensively.
He is athletic sufficient to stick with his task although not so athletic that he can get well if he loses focus. That is an issue provided that he typically focuses an excessive amount of on both the ball or his task on the expense of the opposite and will get undisciplined when scrambling defensively.
Nate Laszewski was a charge-taking machine the final couple of years and that helped alleviate a few of his shortcomings as a submit defender. Likewise, Starling will in all probability want to choose up a defensive trick or two if he is ever going to be a bona fide asset on that finish of the court docket.
There is not a lot to say right here. Starling would not put a lot concerted effort into his rebounding, and he’ll typically leak out fairly than crash the defensive glass. As irritating as which may be at occasions, it is the tradeoff you’re taking with an athletic guard who thrives on the quick break.
On the similar time, Starling has some respectable offensive rebounding instincts, no less than when his teammates shoot airballs, so possibly that is a wrinkle Brey might put within the playbook.
It could be an unoriginal comparability, however why make this extra difficult than it must be? The distinctions between Starling and Wesley are granular: Starling is only one inch shorter and as a combo guard he has extra ball-handling functionality than Wesley. Their athletic capabilities are comparable they usually each have excessive motors. Basically, Starling is a extra refined model of Wesley on the similar level of their respective careers.
Popping out of highschool — and even all through his freshman season at Notre Dame — Wesley’s offensive method was to just about out-athlete the person in entrance of him. He was fearless attacking the basket, typically to a fault.
Generously listed at 6-foot-5, Wesley cannot soar out of a health club like Ja Morant or Anthony Edwards. Coming from a background the place he was all the time essentially the most athletic participant on his highschool court docket and through each Notre Dame follow, he was in all probability unaccustomed to scoring round timber down low. That absolutely contributed to his end-of-year struggles ending on the rim.
Starling might likewise drive the difficulty at occasions, however along with having an identical bodily skillset to that of Wesley, he is developed a dependable floater within the mid vary. That is in all probability an adaptation to the competitors he confronted at La Lumiere. Moreover, Starling has proven the presence of thoughts to regulate technique mid-game, like he did towards IMG Academy this previous February. After getting layups blocked by a few 6-foot-8 guys within the first half…
… Starling adjusted and, along with his group holding on to a lead in crunch time, turned to his floater…
… and once more in double-overtime of the identical recreation along with his group down two factors.
(Aspect notice: La Lumiere level guard Aden Holloway, a four-star 2023 recruit, hit a game-winning three-pointer on this recreation. Combining by means of these recreation clips to search out highlights of Starling, I could not assist however discover simply how a lot of a floor-general Holloway is. He additionally has a Notre Dame provide and is a reputation to remember as a result of reuniting this La Lu backcourt in 2023 could possibly be the second coming of Demetrius Jackson and Jerian Grant at Notre Dame.)
This is not to say that Starling will essentially be higher than Wesley was final season. Wesley was extremely aggressive as a result of Notre Dame wanted him to be and his play-style lent itself to that. Starling is a little more in management as a result of his recreation is extra refined, which is able to in all probability result in better offensive effectivity in change for fewer high-risk, high-reward performs (particularly defensively).
No matter whether or not Wesley stays within the NBA Draft or returns to Notre Dame, Starling must be beginning subsequent season.
If Wesley is gone, Starling is the perfect alternative who can do many of the similar issues as Wesley with extra ball-handling tasks and a greater taking pictures stroke. Niagara switch Marcus Hammond would then slide into the position left by Prentiss Hubb and Dane Goodwin and/or Cormac Ryan spherical out the beginning backcourt.
If Wesley returns, issues get freaky. With Nate Laszewski apparently leaning towards pursuing knowledgeable profession, anticipate much more small-ball which might imply lots of lineups that includes Hammond, Wesley, Starling and any two of Goodwin, Ryan and a giant man. Do not anticipate nice submit protection from that lineup, however it might give opposing defenses loads of complications.
As for accolades, the betting odds for ACC Rookie of the 12 months are on any of Duke’s incoming freshmen. Nevertheless, for the reason that Blue Devils loaded up on frontcourt gamers, Starling has a legit likelihood to point out out as a guard and probably snag the award subsequent season. He might even be a first-team all-conference choice and is a legit one-and-done caliber participant.