Blue and Gold Illustrated

June-July 2017

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 52 of 63 JUNE/JULY 2017 53 WOMEN'S BASKETBALL spring was the coup de grace — and 6-2 classmate Kathryn Westbeld, the next best big, also had to undergo sur- gery in April (ankle) that will sideline her four months. Although Westbeld is expected to be fully healthy by the time practice begins next October, Notre Dame's low-post presence in 2017-18 is going to be the primary concern. The Irish have assembled enough talent in the backcourt and on the wings to remain a top-10 fixture — ESPN has them No. 5 in the "way too early" assessment — but without Turner a national title run would be far less likely. PRESENT AND FUTURE OPTIONS • Senior Kristina Nelson will re- turn for a fifth season in 2017-18, but her role has been limited to the five- to 10-minute range per contest, and sometimes less. She can continue to provide serviceable minutes in that capacity, but where else can some help come from down low? • Westbeld is at her best in the high post in the motion offense and was a strong complement to Turner in the low post. • Freshmen Danielle Patterson (listed at 6-2) made it six straight years Notre Dame has had a recruit in the 24-person McDonald's All-American Game (she was not credited with a point or rebound in 12 minutes of ac- tion there March 29). She can play along the perimeter and will not en- roll as ready-made for instant impact like Turner. Rated as the nation's No. 28 player overall by Prospects Nation and No. 30 by ESPN HoopGurlz, Patterson led Brooklyn's Mary Louis Academy to the school's first CHSAA Brooklyn- Queens title and won the AA city and state titles. Named Co-Miss Basketball in New York, she averaged 23 points, 11 rebounds and four assists per game as a senior. • Freshman Mikayla Vaughn (listed at 6-3) is an interesting study. Al- though she was an all-state pick as a junior at Friends Central School in Pennsylvania, the level of competi- tion was considered sub-par, so she transferred to superpower Paul VI in Fairfax, Va. Her 32-2 team was ranked No. 1 nationally for a good portion of the year and finished No. 4 in USA Today's rankings. While averaging 15.4 points per game during an 11th straight Vir- ginia independent state title for the school she was named WCAC Player of the Year, a first-team All-Virginia selection by USA Today and rose to No. 36 nationally in ESPN Hoop- Gurlz's ratings. • Although she won't be able to help the Irish in 2017-18, Farmingville, N.Y., native Danielle Cosgrove be- came the first frontcourt commitment for the Irish in the 2018 recruiting cycle. Ranked as the nation's No. 52 pros- pect by ESPN HoopGurlz and No. 93 by Prospects Nation, she averaged 17.3 points and 10.7 rebounds per game as a junior, while expanding her game to also shoot from the perimeter and work as a stretch four. "I've spent most of my high school career in the post, double- or triple- teamed and kind of getting hacked all the time," she told Newsday. "It's exciting to know that when I get to college, I won't have to play against three people." • Head coach Muffet McGraw has indicated that she might take as many as six in the 2018 recruiting class, and four already are in the fold with Cos- grove and guards Jenna Brown — a top-10 prospect projected to start as a freshman in 2018-19 the way Lindsay Allen did four years ago — Katlyn Gilbert and Abby Prohaska. Ideally, the two to fill out the class would be 5-11 guard Christyn Wil- liams, the nation's No. 2-ranked pros- pect who hails from Arkansas, and Nebraska transfer Jessica Shepard, a 6-4 center. During the 2015 recruiting cycle, or the year after Turner signed with Notre Dame, Shepard was ranked No. 3 overall by ESPN HoopGurlz and No. 4 by Prospects Nation. The Corn- husker State native averaged 18.6 points and 9.2 rebounds per game her first two seasons at Nebraska, but opted to transfer after the Cornhusk- ers posted a 7-22 record this past year. She has visited Notre Dame and South Carolina, and would have to sit out the 2017-18 season. Landing her, likewise, would help fill a tall void. WNBA ROSTERS Rookie Lindsay Allen, the No. 14 se- lection overall in last month's WNBA Draft, did not make the final cut for the New York Liberty, coached by for- mer Irish and NBA star Bill Laimbeer. Notre Dame alumnae in the WNBA include Skylar Diggins-Smith (Dal- las), Natalie Achonwa (Indiana), Kayla McBride (San Antonio) and Jewell Loyd (Seattle). ✦ Notre Dame's national title hopes in 2017-18 likely hinge on the health of senior Brianna Turner, whose status is uncertain because of the torn ACL she suffered in March. PHOTO BY JOE RAYMOND

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