Notre Dame Basketball

Coach | 2022 Notre Dame Target JJ Starling "Great Kid, Great Teammate"

August 23, 2020
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Pat Holmes understands the Notre Dame men’s basketball program as well as anybody.

The head coach at powerhouse La Lumiere spent three years as a student assistant and another as an intern for the program from 2009-12.

So, when he says 2022 guard JJ Starling‍ would be a fit for the Irish, who extended a scholarship offer toward the end of July, he knows what he’s talking.

“Off the court, he’s great,” says Holmes. “Academically, he’s going to kill it in the classroom. He likes to be challenged. He doesn’t take ‘athlete’ classes in air quotes. He’s a kid who is always going to be participating in class, engaging in the education.

“He’s a kid who you wouldn’t be shocked if he finds a way to graduate in three years and tries to do a Masters type thing. He’s wired like that.”

Holmes also sees Starling as a potential fit on the court with head coach Mike Brey.

“He’s one of those high-IQ guys who knows how to play the game who excel within Coach Brey’s system,” says Holmes. “He’s a basketball player. He’s not like a 1, 2, 3, 4. That’s the thing with Coach Brey and those guys over there, he wants basketball players and that’s what JJ does. He’s just going to make winning plays.

“He’s easy to play with, he’s hard to play against. He’s a guy who is just committed to getting better every single day, which is what Coach and his staff do a great job of, player development, getting guys better, but also giving them the freedom to make plays and that’s where JJ excels.”

Holmes is excited about getting to work with Starling after his transfer into La Lumiere for his upcoming junior season.

In addition to Notre Dame, Starling has scholarship offers from schools like Syracuse, UConn, St. John’s, Marquette, Washington, Alabama, Providence and Wake Forest among others.

“He’s just a great kid and great teammate,” says Holmes. “He’s easy to be around, easy to work with, easy to coach. You don’t have to deal with any kind of ego. But JJ is also just an extremely smart kid and bright kid who does extremely well in the classroom. He likes to get challenged, he likes to learn new things. He’s a kid who you can tell him he can’t do something and he’s going to figure out how he’s going to get it done.

“He’s just wired differently in that regard. He’s a very self-motivated kid who just loves the game of basketball, but he likes trying to push himself to the limit in anything he’s doing. He doesn’t settle for average in anything he does whether it be playing video games with his friends – he’s competitive there – or working out or in the classroom. He expects to get straight A’s and he works to make that happen.”

With the uncertainty surrounding recruiting right now, Holmes says his program will get “a little creative.”

“We don’t know if college coaches are going to be able to get on the road and get out and evaluate this fall,” he says. “What we plan on doing if that’s the case, is filming our open gyms and workouts in the fall a couple times a week and send them out to college coaches.”

He also notes 2022 prospects like Starling still have plenty of time.

“There’s no rush and college coaches understand the guys who come out of our program are usually talented players who are ready to take the next step and compete for playing minutes as a freshman. We’re just telling our guys to be patient. ‘Let’s just work through the fall, figure out what that looks like and hopefully, everyone is either playing basketball by December or January and that’s where you’re going to get more opportunities.’ But our guys all do a pretty good job of taking their time not hunting or chasing offers. It’s all about finding the right fit.”

 
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