Notre Dame Basketball

Coach | 2022 Guard & Notre Dame Recruit JJ Starling Has "NBA Jump Shot"

June 30, 2020

Jim Hart says he told Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey and assistant coach Ryan Ayers about JJ Starling over a year ago.

“He wasn’t on any radar, wasn’t ranked anywhere or anything,” the director of the City Rocks AAU program says of the 2022 New York guard.

“JJ was not ranked a year ago and now people are just discovering. I think he’s underrated right now still believe it or not.”

Given Hart’s track record recommending players, it’s no surprise the Irish listened.

Earlier this month, on the first day college coaches could directly reach out to rising juniors, Notre Dame reached out to Starling.

“He’s an unbelievable player,” says Hart. “He just turned 16 years old. If you look at any of the highlights of him online, you’re looking at highlights of a 15-year-old. He’s young for his grade and 6-4 already. He already has like an NBA jump shot and he’s starting to come into his own with his body and strength.”

Hart goes on to say Starling is a “great athlete, high character kid, equally comfortable with the ball and without. He’s comfortable on or off the ball.”

“At Notre Dame, he can play the 1 or the 2. Most of these combos need to have the ball in their hands to be effective. JJ’s going to be great at the college level because he can be equally effective without the ball in his hands.”

Hart says Starling’s father and older brother started emphasizing shooting with him when he was a toddler.

“He’s always been known as ‘This kid doesn’t miss,’ great shooter,” says Hart. “When you’re the best player on your team when you’re 7 or 8 or 10 or 12 or 13, usually, you play point guard. He was built to be a shooter and most cases, he’s the best player on his team, which equals a high level of usage, so he has the point guard skills.

“It’s been a natural evolution for him. I think he’s open-minded as to where he fits best to help that team wins. He understands, if he’s most-needed at point guard on this particular team and maybe his shooting suffers a little bit. Maybe on another team, he’s best-suited off the ball.”

Hart notes Starling can also defend.

“The sky is the limit because you have a great combination of high academics, high athletics, high skillset, high integrity and high desire,” he says.

Starling will head to a prep school for the remainder of his high school career and is looking at one very close to South Bend.

“He’s likely looking at two different destinations for high school this year and the two he’s down to are Brewster and La Lu,” says Hart. “If he goes to La Lu, that’ll be either good for Notre Dame because they’re close or maybe bad because they’re too close.”

But Hart definitely sees a potential fit between Starling and the Irish.

“Notre Dame, I mean, God, this guy would be perfect for them.”

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