For 68 college basketball teams, it’s time for this year’s March Madness; for the other 295, the race for next year’s edition has already begun. For Notre Dame basketball, that mountain just became a lot harder to climb: JJ Starling, Notre Dame’s stud freshman guard, has entered the transfer portal.
A five-star recruit coming out of high school, Starling averaged 11.2 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game as a freshman and started 24 out of Notre Dame’s 28 games. While his per game averages were fairly impressive, Starling struggled with his efficiency, shooting 42.1 percent from the field, 29.9 percent from three and 63.5 percent from the line. On the whole, Notre Dame struggled this season. Despite entering the year with legitimate NCAA Tournament aspirations, the Fighting Irish stumbled to a 11-21 record, finishing second to last in the ACC with a 3-17 mark in conference play.
Still, Starling is a massive talent and will be highly coveted in the transfer portal; it’s not every day that a former five-star recruit and ACC All-Freshman Team guard is suddenly up for grabs. Similarly, he showed flashes of his potential throughout the season, dropping more than 20 points three times, twice in ACC play.
In 2021, Starling committed to Notre Dame basketball over finalists Syracuse, Duke, Northwestern and Stanford, in large part due to his relationship with head coach Mike Brey, who retired after this season.
“The energy he gave, I felt it through the phone,” JJ Starling said to On3 around the time of his commitment. “That’s how in person I knew it’d be more unreal. This is a guy I would want to play for.”