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Notre Dame Basketball

Coach | Notre Dame Commit Tony Sanders' Best Basketball Is Ahead Of Him

April 4, 2020

Gary DeCesare has been around the game for a long time.

Over the years, he’s been a prominent high school basketball coach in Bronx, N.Y., Chicago and now Miami while also having stints at the college level as an assistant with Richmond and DePaul.

Currently the head coach at Gulliver Prep, DeCesare has sent more than 60 players Division-I over the years, so his opinion on new Notre Dame commit Tony Sanders Jr., should be reassuring for Irish fans.

“I think it’s a great fit,” DeCesare said of the 2020 forward, who announced his verbal commitment to Notre Dame on Friday.

DeCesare only coached the 6-foot-7 Sanders for one year, but that was long enough for him to recognize Sanders as “a great basketball player.”

“Tony is one of the best guys I’ve coached,” DeCesare continued. “He’s had a helluva career at Gulliver. He was just shy of 2,000 points with 1,966. He had his most points this year with me, over 600. He’s had over 500 rebounds. That’s a helluva career for a high school kid.

“I just love his potential and his versatility. His best basketball is ahead of him…He’s got a great feel for the game. He’s very coachable. His versatility is tremendous. He could play anywhere on the floor. He could guard a 1, a 2, a 3, a 4. It’s just a great fit for Notre Dame.”

The coach said Sanders Jr., is that fit works “both on the court and off the court.”

“He’s a great kid,” he added. “He’s a good student. He’s very articulate. He’s just a really hard worker. He has a great personality. I think those are the intangibles that you look for in a student-athlete today.”

On the court, Sanders should fit in with Mike Brey’s philosophy.

“They’re pretty much a position-less team,” he said. “Coach Brey has mastered that…I think Tony will have a tremendous career there. I’m really happy and proud for him.”

Sanders had several other offers, including Florida State and Dayton, a school he visited and liked. But when Ryan Humphrey and Notre Dame started getting involved around Christmas, it was a pivotal point in his recruitment.

“Ryan came to a couple of our games and really liked him,” DeCesare said. “He got a dialogue with Coach Brey.”

DeCesare goes back decades with Brey, all of the way back to Brey’s days as an assistant coach at Duke.

The current dead period, which was extended just this week, was both a complication and an accelerator.

“He was trying to get an official visit there, but we came to the realization that that’s not going to happen with what’s going on in the world, so that had to be done virtually,” DeCesare said. “He went on the website and dug through that and had a dialogue with the coaching staff and Coach Brey and he committed and got it over with.”

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