Run-DMC at Notre Dame: Las Vegas Border League lessons


The vision was there. Slightly fuzzy. The picture came into focus in a few tantalizing minutes.

There was the golden-haired forward handling, hop-stepping, firing a lookaway pass to the sweet-shooting point guard for a corner three-pointer. There was the shooting guard pushing the pace on a fast break, levitating, windmilling, lighting up the gym. And there were all three on the sideline, grinning, sipping from Gatorade cups, amassing such a lead their night ended early.

When former five-star prospect Ziaire Williams — now with the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies — left Sherman Oaks Notre Dame for Chatsworth Sierra Canyon in 2019, the Knights had a “complete program reset,” boys’ basketball coach Matt Sargeant said. Gloom trickled in.

Would they ever get a player like that again?

Then Houston commit Mercy Miller strolled with father Master P into Notre Dame’s cafeteria in March to incredulous murmurs from Notre Dame players. Miller’s friend and Duke commit Caleb Foster followed. Now, along with senior Dusty Stromer, Notre Dame is looking at a triumvirate of talent largely unmatched in Southern California prep hoops.

“Run DMC,” Miller said, grinning and pointing first at the Stromer, then himself, then Foster. “Dusty. Mercy. Caleb.”

Stromer, the Gonzaga commit who’s transformed from a three-point specialist into a do-everything forward. Miller, the high-flying shooting guard from Oak Hill Academy in Virginia. And Foster, also from Oak Hill, the unassuming blue-chip floor general and now top-ranked senior recruit in California.

“I feel like we ain’t got no ceiling, man,” Miller said, with a nod and smile from Stromer.

The Border League preseason tournament in Las Vegas offered a chance for top Southern California programs like Notre Dame to tinker with new talent and get a glimpse into how offseason transfers will change the dynamic of Southern Section boys’ basketball.

The biggest takeaways:

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