The contact period has just begun for 2022 high school basketball recruits, but that hasn’t stopped college programs and prep athletes from developing strong relationships early on while also starting to establish a list of suitors.
For Notre Dame, they have offered three athletes so far in the class and all three have terrific careers ahead of them. Rivals Top 50 small forward Prince Aligbe has seen his stock rise significantly over the last several months, and the Irish jumped into the ring with an offer to the Minneapolis (Minn.) Minnehaha Academy standout back on June 15th.
Aligbe has held high major offers for over a year now, but since March alone he has picked up offers from UCLA, Ohio State, Auburn, LSU, USC, Marquette, Tennessee, Georgetown, and of course Notre Dame.
On top of that impressive list of schools, he has also received offers from Arkansas, Mississippi State, Cal, Iowa State, Missouri, Georgia, Vanderbilt, Minnesota, Iowa, Maryland, Florida, Illinois and Western Kentucky. Most of those coming within the last year and a half. The rising junior should only see this list continue to grow as an upperclassmen.
Recently, Minnehaha Academy Head Basketball Coach Lance Johnson spoke with Irish Breakdown to touch on Aligbe and his program. Johnson thinks the world of Aligbe and is excited to see what happens with the young wing over the next couple of seasons.
“Number one, he is a total character kid,” Johnson said of his star player. “He is a great student, he is a very spiritually-oriented kid, he is a very strong Christian kid. His mom is a minister of a church up here in Minneapolis, and his dad is a devout Christian. He just is a kid of quality.”
In thinking of Aligbe, Johnson reminisced about his program over the last several seasons and all of the good basketball and kids he has been blessed to be around. Across the country, Minnehaha Academy is widely viewed as one of the top prep basketball programs in the country, but Johnson admits that was never the intention.
“It has been really fun,” he mentioned. “We’re not a basketball academy. We’re a regular high school, and we've had so much fun with this bunch of kids over the last few years. I realize it is probably a once and a lifetime thing, and I am just trying to enjoy it.”
“Because of Jalen Suggs and Chet Holmgrem, we’ve really gotten used to the attention from college programs,” he continued. “What has been really different though, is the take off that Prince has had the last few weeks. We knew it was going to happen eventually, but it really has been the last two months or so he has received a ton of really, really top notch division one offers. And so, it has been exciting for me because he is such a great kid.”
While Johnson doesn’t want to speak on behalf of the four-star and No. 49 player in the Class of 2022 on Rivals, he knows the type of kid Aligbe is and he knows what is really going to impress him about college programs. Notre Dame is the kind of a university that should resonate extremely well with Aligbe and his family.
“Prince is going to make a decision based on number one academics, number two if a school fits him and his character and number basketball, in that order,” Johnson stated. “I mean, he is not the type of kid that is talking about being a one-and-done. He is not that type of kid. Obviously he has goals of being a professional athlete, but he has other goals as well.”
“And looking at a place like Notre Dame, Notre Dame would be a great place for him,” he continued, with excited laughter in his voice. “Academically, and again, the spiritual component and everything else. Our school uses him a lot for promotion, because he is so articulate. Even as a sophomore. By the time he is a senior, he is going to be so mature, it’s incredible. He talks like he is 25 years old. Again, we are looking at Georgetown, Notre Dame...the academic standard at Notre Dame is great, so I think it would be really good for him.”
As for the player he is on the court, Aligbe would fit into most high major programs well. He is mature for his age, and looks like someone that can already hold his own physically at the collegiate level. Coach Johnson spoke out about what Aligbe brings to a team, and where he wants him to by the time he’s a senior.
“Unselfish, that is the biggest thing I can say about him,” he stated. “He’s played with Chet [Holmgrem], he’s played with Jalen [Suggs], and he has just never been that guy that gets jealous of what they have received. He has been totally pleased with their accomplishments and all of the attention they have gotten. He is just an unselfish player. He is a great passer, great defender. You know, as a sophomore he is 6-6, 6-6 and a half and about 210-215 pounds. By the time he is a senior, he is just gonna be something. His physical maturity puts him ahead of just about everyone he goes up against.”
“He has a decent shot right now,” Johnson continued. “I always look at him as a lot older than he actually is, but for a sophomore his shot is sound. It is something we want to develop. We want him to develop a lights out perimeter game.”
When it comes to Prince Aligbe, Notre Dame is one of the newer programs on his list of offers and interests, but I don’t see that as a hurdle for the Irish coaching staff. Aligbe is the type of athlete that Notre Dame struggles to find on a consistent basis. A borderline five-star athlete with the academics and spiritual background suited for a perfect match. A quick look at his list of choices, Aligbe can pretty much play wherever he wants. He can also get a great education at many of those programs as well. However, if he is looking for a blend of basketball, academics and a place that matches his character Notre Dame could end up in the top group of his interests down the line.
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