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Notre Dame Basketball

Fearless Freshman: With tattoo as inspiration, Wesley never backs down

February 16, 2022

They were stunned, rocked back on their heels.

And Blake Wesley was absolutely in his element. Silencing the denizens of Clemson’s Littlejohn Coliseum.

Jumpers. Threes. Drives. There is little that the Notre Dame freshman sensation cannot do, and seemingly all of his skills were on display last Saturday.

“It’s confidence, boost your confidence for sure,” Wesley said. “I started off good, first nine, 10 minutes. I was feeling myself after the first shot, the pull-up shot. It was quick in the shot-clock, but I had a wide-open shot and dropped that.

“After that, I knew it was going to be a good night for sure.”

John Brice | ISD
Blake Wesley Tattoo

Had there been any doubt, Wesley needed only to look at the interior of his right forearm. There, an inked-on cross stretches from near his wrist to just below his elbow. It features just two words; one on each side, perpendicular to the vertical axis.

“Faith” (over) “Fear.”

“Really, faith over fear; I’ve got a tattoo that says that,” said Wesley, who’s scored in double figures in 21 of 25 games of his collegiate career and has sported the ink since just weeks before his collegiate debut. “I fear nobody but God. When I came in here, I was like, ‘Don’t be afraid. Just do you.’

“It’s like so me and my family talk about God, and my sister (Taylor) helped me out with this, too. Faith over fear means just me. Just faith over fear.”

Somehow, amazingly, an Irish team playing increasingly fearless basketball with six players in at least their fourth year of college – plus the newcomer Wesley – is producing near-record good nights. Notre Dame (18-7, 11-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) hosts Boston College (9-14, 4-9 ACC), a team which has just three wins in the past 10 weeks, tonight inside Purcell Pavilion (7, ESPN2/U).

"I think his mind is so free and he's so confident -- and maybe actually feels it's his destiny,” ND coach Mike Brey said. “That's a good thing.

“The other guys have had to go through the mud a little to get to different places.”

Wesley’s had no gilded path, but he added another marker on a golden debut campaign in last Saturday’s 21-point, six-rebound, three-assist road-outburst.

The 6-foot-5 Wesley had 18 points in the game’s first 10 minutes; he drilled each of his first six shot attempts against the Tigers.

Not in the box score? Wesley’s ability to shush the crowd.

“Yeah, the fan base there was crazy,” he said. “It was ridiculous. They had fans all around (the court). It was wicked, but I enjoyed it.

“I like to play on the road more than here (Purcell Pavilion). That’s just me. I like to shut crowds up and stuff like that. That’s just me, I love it.”

Including tonight’s tilt, the Irish have six more games; four of them are at home, where Notre Dame is 10-1 this season, and two are shut-up opportunities at Wake Forest (Saturday, 1 p.m.) and at Florida State (March 2).

Wesley is in the middle of all of the Irish’s ACC regular-season championship and NCAA Tournament aspirations.

"It's a really cool dynamic to see,” Brey said of his home-grown star’s unflinching approach. “It's not like he played on the EYBL circuit, and he wasn't a McDonald's All-American. That's a little bit of an it-factor thing -- a confidence and swagger.

"He started off right away being able to get places on the floor with the ball that our other guards can't do. I think the guards we have were pissed at it, and then respected the heck out of it, because it could really help us."

It could have the Irish screaming in celebration, and their ACC competition left to say nothing at all.

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