As Notre Dame head basketball coach Mike Brey and his staff started focusing in on their needs in the 2014 recruiting class, they began wondering if their 2013 class may not have finished with the commitment of point guard Demetrius Jackson last week after all.
It happened fast, but the Irish ended up capping the 2013 class on Monday with the pledge of Jackson’s AAU teammate and fellow local hoopster, forward Austin Torres of Granger, Ind.
The 6-foot-6, 200-pounder from Penn High School, who had been previously committed to Central Michigan, joins Jackson along with guard Steve Vasturia and forward V.J. Beachem in Notre Dame’s 2013 recruiting haul.
Torres caught the Irish’s attention while they were scouting Jackson’s AAU games for his MBA Basketball squad.
“Obviously they saw every one of Austin’s games this summer because Notre Dame was at every single one of our games in July to watch Demetrius,” MBA head coach Rod Creech said. “They always talked to me about him, they were always asking and they were really intrigued with him being 6-6, 6-7 with a 40-inch vertical and tons of athleticism. He runs like a deer.
“We were kind of talking just of the blue one day about recruiting. They said, ‘We’re looking for 2014, bouncy 6-6 kids.’ I was like, ‘Man, what about Torres?’ That’s kind of how I introduced Torres at that level to them.”
Things happened quickly from there and everything went down in a matter of weeks, according to Creech.
“The next thing I knew they gave him a call,” said Creech. “Coach and his staff got in touch with him and set up a home visit and the next thing I know Austin’s calling me and saying he was going to commit to Notre Dame. He said his whole body was numb. It’s been a lifelong dream for him.”
Torres has multiple Notre Dame alums in his family, including his mother, who played soccer for the Irish, and his grandfather.
“He lives 15 minutes from campus,” said Creech. “It’s been something he’s wanted to do his entire life.”
Creech said Torres comes from a strong family with strong values, which made it difficult to tell Central Michigan he wasn’t coming.
“He’s such a great kid with a great family, so that was the hardest part of the whole deal,” the coach said. “I give him credit though. He stepped up and he made the call himself. He spoke intelligently with great respect and confidence. He apologized and while it probably wasn’t the best thing for Central, it was the best thing for Austin and his family. It was tough for him, but he got through it.”
Central Michigan’s loss is Notre Dame’s gain, according to his AAU coach.
“He’s one of the most athletic kids I’ve ever seen in my life, honestly,” Creech said. “He kind of runs and rebounds a la Dennis Rodman, obviously his offensive skills are a lot better. He’s got a nose for the ball. He can block shots. He can rebound. He’s physical. He can get to the rim and elevate. He’s pretty explosive.”
Torres will have to change his game at the next level, but Creech says that process has already begun.
“He’s always been a post player in high school and obviously he’s not going to be a post player in the ACC,” said Creech. “The first month of working on moving out to the perimeter and working on his skills, the first month, he exploded with his growth and he just keeps getting better and better. His ceiling is off the charts.
“He’s got to be able to step out and play on the perimeter at 6-7, so we’ve got to keep working on his ability to stick the jump shot consistently and play off the dribble. He’ll bring a ton of athleticism and the ability to get up and down the floor and defend and rebound in the short term. He’s going to go to work every day.”
Creech doesn’t think the Irish reached at all by offering Torres.
“I always thought he could play at that level, but it had to be the right situation and this happened to be one.”