Previous to the beginning of the 2020-21 season, first-year Notre Dame girls’s basketball head coach Niele Ivey predicted that 6-Three freshman ahead Maddy Westbeld would make on the spot main influence.
She even went as far as to make use of Westbeld’s title in the identical sentence with luminaries Skylar Diggins and Arike Ogunbowale as bodily and mentally probably the most “faculty prepared” to play in all her years as a Preventing Irish participant/nationwide champion (1996-01), after which as an assistant coach/nationwide champion (2007-19) at Notre Dame.
Ivey has confirmed prophetict, with Westbeld main the 8-6 Preventing Irish (6-Four in ACC) in scoring (15.Four factors per sport) and rebounding (7.6), whereas additionally rating second in assists (40), steals (21) and blocked photographs (12).
In level guard Olivia Miles — who celebrated her 18th birthday on Friday (Jan. 29) — Ivey has not been reticent about having comparable, if not higher, expectations.
Ranked by Hoopgurlz because the nation’s No. Eight total prospect within the 2021 class (and No. 2 level guard), Miles opted to enroll at Notre Dame this January whereas her senior yr of highschool at distinguished New Jersey boarding college Blair Academy has been postponed/delayed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Miles arrived on campus two weeks in the past, and after a full week of quarantine, was cleared to start observe this previous Monday. Though Ivey is reluctant to say whether or not Miles will play this Sunday at Syracuse (8-Three total, 5-Three in ACC) — “we’ll see,” she replied a number of occasions — her effusive reward of Miles hinted that motion sooner or later can be inevitable.
“She’s a program changer,” Ivey mentioned. “If you see her, when she steps on the ground, she has that ‘it’ issue. She’s a really particular participant. I feel she has the identical instruments as Skylar in understanding the way to get folks the ball when they should get the ball.
“However Skylar was extra of a scoring level guard. Olivia I feel is a real level guard. She will rating, however she really enjoys dishing, she likes to get her teammates photographs earlier than she likes to provide herself photographs.
“Their aggressive drive may be very comparable. She’s her personal individual. I can’t evaluate her to anyone as a result of I don’t assume we’ve ever seen a degree guard [at Notre Dame) that can do the things she can do, to be honest. She’s got a flash in her game, she’s great in transition, and she’s got vision that we’ve probably never seen in this program.”
A superb student, the 5-10 Miles will don jersey No. 25 and her trademark prescription goggles because of her aversion to contact lenses.
Second semester classes that begin next Wednesday (Feb. 3) will include typical freshman prerequisite courses for Miles, plus Calculus and psychology, while she plans to major in either science or business administration.
Ivey first saw Miles play in the eighth grade and recruited her since her freshman season in high school. A confident, strong speaker, Miles said she always has had an affinity toward Notre Dame and a unique connection with Ivey. The day that Ivey was hired last spring to succeed Basketball Hall of Fame member and mentor Muffet McGraw, Ivey spoke with Miles, and she committed on the spot.
Her connection with Ivey goes beyond the basketball court. Miles’ parents are both engineers, with father Yakubu in the software industry and mother Maria a chemical engineer at Eli Lilly. Miles has also been on podcasts with issues centering on social justice.
“Niele and I have been talking about this for a while, about ways we can spread awareness and do anything we can to make people more aware,” Miles said. “It made so much sense to put myself in this spot where I can be mentored and teach and learn from such an amazing player and coach.
“…When I’m more comfortable around my team and I start to know more people, we can start working together to make a change and use all of our platforms to spread this awareness.”
From an early age, Miles learned from her parents on how to think as an adult.
“They were always on me about No. 1 staying humble and No. 2 being aware of your brand, yourself and your image and your name — and it carries everything along with you,” Miles said. “I’ve always been raised and taught to respect myself, respect others and think first before posting something [on social media] that hundreds of individuals can see.
“And particularly with a youthful viewers of younger women enjoying basketball, it might simply be a nasty look to submit one thing and have them consider you want that or observe in these footsteps. They’re all the time on the aspect speaking to me about watching what I’m doing and being cognizant of actually simply posting one thing that may assist as a substitute of harm somebody.”
Till partaking in observe this week, Miles mentioned she has not performed aggressive basketball since final summer time, and largely has acquired particular person coaching a number of occasions per week, whereas additionally going by way of a earlier two-week quarantine. She didn’t take into consideration enrolling early till she noticed Blair Academy teammate Dominique Darius do the identical at UCLA in December.
“It was a tricky resolution, however the best resolution,” mentioned Miles of taking the steps to enroll at Notre Dame early. She wouldn’t forfeit a yr of eligibility by enjoying this yr, both.
Soccer was really her old flame and a sport she nonetheless misses enjoying, however there is sufficient to take in now together with her new teammates and trying to assimilate into an offense that’s looking for a real level guard.
“There’s been a number of info being thrown at me however I really feel like I’ve been receptive,” Miles mentioned. “…It’s been good however it’s positively been robust.”
She mentioned Ivey hasn’t assured any enjoying time, however simply getting a head begin in her faculty profession is a bonus.
“Simply studying and rising, and see the place it takes me,” mentioned Miles of her early targets. “Hoping I’m going to get good minutes. Take on this expertise, be taught from it, develop, and use it as mentoring, making connections and hit the bottom operating for the primary official yr.”
When Miles signed with the Irish final November, Ivey acknowledged that an innate “swag” will come together with her.
“Enjoying all these years I’ve actually realized that actually all it’s important to do is have faith in your self,” Miles mentioned. “You’ll be able to shoot a thousand photographs, you may work exhausting within the gymnasium — and you may get on the courtroom and simply freeze. It could possibly occur to all people. However you simply should be assured in that work you place in and assured in your self.
“I simply attempt to play my manner and never anybody else’s manner, and I feel that’s what drives me and motivates me.”
Her first precedence on the courtroom is to boost and elevate the extent of play of her teammates as a facilitator.
“I really like making a reference to one other individual and seeing others put the ball within the hoop, after which getting that momentum, and getting that happiness and pleasure, and eager to make one other play,” Miles mentioned.
“And I really like attacking the rim and drawing somebody [in] and kicking out for a 3. These are the kind of performs that simply get the staff going. I really like that about being a degree guard. I really like directing, having management and main the staff, and understanding that I’m doing one thing to assist us win.”
• Again with the squad this semester and likewise working towards is 6-Four junior ahead Danielle Cosgrove, who took a depart of absence from college final semester for what she mentioned had been psychological well being causes.
Together with former walk-on and senior guard Nicole Benz, the Irish have now the utmost 15-woman roster on scholarship.
• Junior guard Katlyn Gilbert is projected to be out not less than till mid-February whereas recovering from foot surgical procedure.
• Freshman middle Natalija Marshall, who had ACL surgical procedure the earlier winter stays “everyday” whereas step by step getting cleared for extra exercise drills.