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Harden Makes Four?

A couple of years ago Mike Brey picked through the bin of overlooked recruits after the bigs had feasted on their McDonalds' All-Americans and nabbed a small school kid from New Jersey named Russell Carter. Carter may have turned into Notre Dame's best player by the end of this year. This spring signing season, Brey may have found two more in wings Jonathan Peoples and Joe Harden who yesterday indicated he would soon be Irish. It's pretty much a done deal," said Harden, who averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds in leading the Rams to a 31-4 record and the CIF Division III runner-up spot. "When he calls me later this week, I'll make it official." Harden to be Irish

Men's Hoop

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March 30. 2006 6:59AM


Tough California kid joins Brey's Irish



Tribune Staff Writer


His nose was busted up for a third time while chasing a loose ball back in September, so he simply grabbed a protective mask and kept hustling.


His eyebrow was split open near the end of his senior season, so he simply accepted the 15 stitches required to close the wound and kept competing.


When this information about Joe Harden, a 6-foot-7 1/2, 210-pound wing from St. Mary's High School in Stockton, Calif., was relayed to Mike Brey, the Notre Dame basketball coach had one thought -- sign him.



Early Wednesday evening, Harden committed to play for Brey and the Irish beginning next season.


"Coach likes that I'm tough and I'm not afraid to stick my nose in there," Harden said by cell phone minutes after finalizing his commitment to Brey around 7:45 p.m. "He feels that I can bring a toughness to the team. I just like to compete."


Brey visited St. Mary's late Tuesday afternoon. Harden later fielded a call from Brey, where a scholarship offer was extended, during the coach's 50-mile car ride back to Sacramento. Harden all but accepted on the spot late Tuesday, then reconfirmed his commitment the following afternoon.


"I'm excited," he said. "It's a school I've always liked."


Harden, who grew an inch and a half and added 15 pounds to his frame over the summer, averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds his senior season. He saved his best for last, averaging 27 points in the playoffs, including one game of 40 points and 14


rebounds. The Rams, who finished 31-4, lost in their first-ever appearance in the California Interscholastic Federation Division III championship game.


"It couldn't have been a better year," said Harden, who chose Notre Dame after also hearing from Oregon, San Diego, Southern California and Virginia.


Irish coaches saw Harden play in person five different times this season.


Projected to play shooting guard and some small forward in college, Harden will have time to adjust next season while working behind Ryan Ayers, Russell Carter, Colin Falls and Zach Hillesland. Redshirting while adapting to the college game, especially the Big East, is an option, but Harden is willing to work -- right away.


"I have to get in the weight room," he said. "The players at the next level are quicker, stronger and faster. It's a whole new game, and I have to be ready."


Harden visited Notre Dame for last fall's USC football game. He joins a recruiting class that already includes power forward Luke Harangody (Schererville), point guard Tory Jackson (Saginaw, Mich.) and wing Jonathan Peoples (Westchester, Ill.). Harangody, a first team all-state selection and Jackson, who led his Buena Vista High School team to a state championship last weekend, signed with Notre Dame in November. Peoples, one of the top combo guards in the Chicago area and Harden will make it official during the spring signing period, which begins April 10.


Among the latest recruit rankings on Rivals.com, Harangody is ranked No. 58 while Jackson is at No. 95. Peoples and Harden are not ranked among its Top 150.


Under NCAA recruiting regulations, Brey cannot comment on either Peoples or Harden until the players' respective letters of intent are finalized. After signing 10 prep prospects in his first four recruiting classes, Brey will have signed eight -- four and four -- the last two years.


"I would like to get our (roster) numbers up," Brey said late this season.


Harden plans to sign his letter of intent on April 12 and will take an official campus visit with Peoples on April 22. Signing in the spring always was the plan for Harden.


"I wanted to get some looks from other schools during the year," he said. "I felt like there really was no rush."


He will be the first prep basketball player from California to sign with the Irish since Tustin native David Lalazarian spent one season (1997) in South Bend before transferring to Pepperdine. He also is Brey's first prep player recruited west of the Mississippi River set to sign with Notre Dame.


"It will be a little different going to school out there," Harden said. "But we have a place in Lake Tahoe, so I like snow."


Notre Dame still may add another high school senior or a current college transfer this spring. Brey has two scholarships remaining for the 2006-07 season.





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Guest irishrick

are we going to get back on track in the basketball game, we sure had a terrible time with close games, hope coach brey gets his guys that he need to be a major player. :)

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March 31, 2006

Still Working


BlueAndGold.com Assistant Editor



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Mike Brey has always taken a creative and sometimes unorthodox approach to recruiting.

Sure, most of his players commit early and sign on the traditional day in November like 90 percent of high school recruits.


But finding transfers like Danny Miller, Ryan Humphrey and Dennis Latimore, as well as landing some late commitments from high school seniors has become an important part of Brey’s recruiting strategy.


That’s why it wasn’t a huge surprise this week when Brey landed Joe Harden out of St. Mary’s high school in Stockton, Cal., as the second late commitment and the fourth member of the Class of 2006.


Harden, a 6-foot-7, 210-pound wing, made his verbal commitment official late Wednesday night, not long after his fine senior season was finished.


“What is Notre Dame getting? They are a getting a complete and a tough basketball player who should be able to come in and contribute immediately,” said St. Mary’s coach Ken Green. “The one thing that sticks out to me is he has steadily improved all four years here.”


Harden averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds this season in leading his team to a 31-4 record and a place in the California Division III championship game. He joins Chicago-area guard Jonathan Peoples as the second high school senior to commit to Brey late in the recruiting season. Both are expected to sign their letters of intent in April.


“He’s a leader. He’s a great student, a good person,” Green said. “There’s nothing you can say bad about Joe Harden. He’s also a pretty good basketball player too.”


Though not overly heralded on any of the recruiting services, Harden was on Notre Dame’s radar through most of the recruiting season. His stock rose during a solid run in the postseason tournament.


Brey indicated after the NIT loss to Michigan that his recruiting season probably was not finished, even if his basketball season was. With two more scholarships to give, Brey still may not be finished. Brey has always been one to save a scholarship or two but he indicated recently he would like to start approaching his full allotment of 13 scholarship players.


A transfer or another unsigned senior could still come on board for next season and it’s not out of the question Harden could redshirt next year with the emergence of Ryan Ayers at the wing position late this season.


Typically, seniors commit late because they aren’t satisfied with the offers they receive before their senior season. Russell Carter is one such player that Brey landed as a late commitment. Peoples fits that profile. Harden does not, saying all along he would wait until after his senior year to commit. He chose Notre Dame over San Diego, Cal-Santa Barbara and Virginia among others.


“He is very versatile and that is another of his strengths,” Green said. “He could play a variety of positions and I think that is what makes him such a commodity.”


Once Harden and Peoples make it official in April, they will join Luke Harangody, a first-team All-Indiana selection, and Tory Jackson, who led his team to a state championship in Michigan last week, as part of the incoming freshman class.




Discuss this article in the "Rockne's Roundtable" message board.

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