As a senior at Charlotte (N.C.) Providence Day, Trey Wertz was debating between many Power 5 offers as well as top notch Ivy League programs. Growing up in the Charlotte area in ACC country and around the likes of North Carolina, Duke and NC State, one might wonder how Santa Clara entered the picture.
For the recent transfer to Notre Dame, it wasn’t a difficult decision to leave home.
“At the time it was really just the situation, I felt that with the mix of academics and athletics, just kind of being in Silicon Valley with the connections I could make.” Wertz explained. “Athletic wise, it was a program, even when I committed, a lot of people didn’t know about, but I thought the coaching staff had a good vision for me and where they wanted the program to go. They thought I could be a corner piece for that, and that was really appealing to me.”
Wertz also wouldn’t be making the trek cross-country by himself as his mom’s side of the family is from the area, so it had the feel of a second home to him.
“The blend of everything made it the best fit,” he added.
When it came to selecting his next destination, Wertz narrowed it down to four schools from seven soon before announcing: Arizona, Butler, North Carolina and Notre Dame.
All appealing schools and programs in their own right, and all with a history of success on the basketball court. Notre Dame would end up checking all the boxes for Wertz during his second crack in recruiting.
Wertz went public with his commitment on April 11th, but gave Notre Dame’s staff the good news a few days prior to that.
“For me, it was really about finding the best basketball situation, and Notre Dame is obviously really good academically so that didn’t hurt at all.” he said of the Irish. “I kinda had the feeling about it earlier in that week. Me and my parents sat down, and I had a worksheet, I guess you would say, with different categories ranking each of the schools … and it became obvious that Notre Dame was at the top or number two in every category.”
Before making his final decision, Wertz was able to talk to a few current players on the team in Cormac Ryan and Nate Laszewski. He would also sit down with the staff and go through virtual tours of campus and zoom meetings.
However, a current Notre Dame football player and fellow Providence Day graduate was also able to give Wertz a rundown of the school and answer some of his questions.
“Osita [Ekwonu], he acted like another recruiter for Notre Dame, texting me every couple of days just trying to get me to come up there,” Wertz noted. “I asked him questions because I wasn’t able to visit, so he kinda gave me a different perspective on what campus life is like. He definitely helped.”
The pitch from the Notre Dame staff was pretty clear. Head coach Mike Brey’s system revolves around guard play, and he isn’t afraid to run with four ball handlers in the same rotation. This was a major selling point for Wertz.
“When we first started talking I saw that they had a lot of guards on their roster, but Coach [Ryan] Humphrey said they like to play three guards, maybe four guards at a time,” explained Wertz. “The year I’m eligible, they really see me, Prentiss [Hubb] and Cormac being a really good backcourt.”
The staff even compared him to one of the better players to come through South Bend under Brey, another selling point that stuck with Wertz during his decision making process.
“Jerian Grant was their comparison for me; they think I am a better shooter at the same stage and a better athlete, but we have similar builds at 6’5 and can play either (guard) spot.”
So what’s next for Wertz? With everything going on around the country involving COVID-19, he has been able to stay active and get in the gym a good amount. It is a fluid process and things change daily, so he is talking with the staff a lot and keeping an open mind about when he is able to get up to South Bend.
“Workout wise, I’ve just been doing stuff around my house … trying to stay as active as I can,” said Wertz. “My friend has a key to his high school, so I’ve actually been able to get in there a little bit. There is just a lot of uncertainty obviously, but Coach Brey has been pretty optimistic about thinking we might be able to get down there at some point during the summer, if not hopefully by the start of August when school starts.”
Regarding his transfer and the possibility of immediate eligibility, that isn’t really on the mind of Wertz and Notre Dame. It was always the plan for him to sit out.
“With the plan we laid out, I was pretty much gonna sit out regardless,” explained the rising junior guard. “Just the plan for me, it kinda made the most sense.”
Wertz averaged 12.0 points and 4.3 assists per game in his two years at Santa Clara. He improved his three point percentage from his freshman year to his sophomore year considerably, going from 32% to 40% while starting 58 total games in those two seasons.
Once eligible, he will bring a tremendous amount of playing experience and shooting ability to an already efficient lineup.
Back in 2014-2015, during the first of two elite eight runs, Brey had Demetrius Jackson, Grant, Pat Connaughton and Steve Vasturia all on the floor at the same time quite a bit. When Wertz enters the lineup in 2021-2022 the staff is hoping that Hubb, Ryan, Dane Goodwin and Wertz can rekindle that same level of success en route to another deep tournament run.
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