Freshman Blake Wesley ‘Ready To Start My Next Journey’, will leave Notre Dame to enter the NBA draft

Notre Dame freshman Blake Wesley will enter the 2022 NBA draft, saying he has no plans to return to the Fighting Irish.

“I plan to stay in the enlistment,” he told ESPN on Wednesday. “I’m in great shape. I’m ready for the NBA. I’m ready to start my next journey.”

Wesley, 20th on the ESPN 100, has been named the All-ACC Second Team and Rookie of the Year after averaging 14.4 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.3 steals in 29.3 minutes per game this season.

He emerged as a dynamic threat to the Fighting Irish who turned their season playing ACC and eventually won two NCAA Championship games.

“I had a good year,” Wesley said. “Fitness Trainer [Mike] Bree put a lot of trust in me and helped me prepare what awaits me. He was pushing me every day and giving me the freedom and distance to show my talent.”

Wesley greatly exceeded expectations as a new student. He was marginally considered a top 100 potential high school class for 2021 when he committed to Notre Dame from James Whitcombe Riley High School in South Bend, but quickly secured a spot in Bray’s starting lineup while establishing himself as one of the most productive freshman guards in the country .

“I slept all my high school career,” Wesley said. “I had the pleasure of having my parents by my side telling me the order didn’t matter, being an American McDonald’s didn’t matter. I knew that if EYBL hadn’t been canceled after my freshman year of high school because of the pandemic, things would have looked different to me. All that It went great in the end.”

Wesley was the first South Bend public school player to remain domestically and sign with the Notre Dame men’s basketball since 1985.

“The community of South Bend means a lot to me,” Wesley said. “My mom is on the school board here, and it was important to help connect the city to the school.”

Notre Dame got off to a slow start, losing five of its seven games in non-conference play, but finished 15-5 in the ACC after finding rhythm in the offensive finish that went on to the NCAA Championships won by Rutgers and Alabama. The Fighting Irish’s rapid improvement on the offensive end came shortly after Wesley was promoted to the starting lineup. The 6-foot-5, 19-year-old has been the X factor in many of the team’s biggest wins, giving the Irish much-needed shot creation, playmaking and, as the season progressed, defensive versatility.

Wesley’s ability to beat dribbling defenders with his powerful first stride, long strides to the edge and his ability to finish is pretty exciting for scouts at 6-5 with an NBA ready frame, especially since he turned 19 two weeks ago. He’s looked more defensively competitive as the year has gone by, using his speed, length and solid instincts to add value on and off the ball, playing in passing lanes, blasting passes, and proving that he’s more than capable of containing the ball into one. individual positions. The path he’s on, going from a little-known recruit in high school to a potential lottery pick in a year’s time, gives him a huge advantage to cash in with his career moves in the NBA.

“I am a tireless worker,” Wesley said. “I rise to the occasion. Having such a veteran team by my side has been really helpful. We exceeded everyone’s expectations. I am a 6-5 point guard, and there is no one else in the NBA Draft like me. People tell me I play like Shay Gilgus Alexander. I study it a lot. I don’t know people realize how good it is to hit the ball.”

With a solid initial draft process, it’s not out of the question for Wesley to appear in the lottery, especially if he hits the ball well in private practice.

The NBA draft will be May 16-22 in Chicago, and the draft will be June 23 in New York.