Lakota West High School junior guard Abby Prohaska had been told she would “just know” when she found the right college to continue her basketball career.
It might have sounded at times like mythical advice to calm her through what can be a nerve-wracking recruiting process, but now Prohaska understands that feeling — she finally found where she believes she belongs.
Prohaska committed to Notre Dame on Tuesday and announced the decision Wednesday.
“I didn’t feel pressure because people told me when you know you know, so I was just waiting for that feeling,” Prohaska said. “When I walked on campus and was talking to the coaches and the team, I just felt like I knew. I didn’t want to waste anyone else’s time when I knew that’s where I wanted to be.”
The 5-foot-10 lefty has been a varsity letter winner at West since her freshman year when she broke the program’s single-season steals record (100) despite starting just 11 games on the 2015 OHSAA state championship team. Through three games this season, she is averaging 11.0 points and 7.0 rebounds.
A two-time All-GMC pick, Prohaska played on the USA Basketball U17 team that earned a bronze medal at the FIBA U17 World Championships this summer. West coach Andy Fishman said Notre Dame is getting a special player.
“As a player, the first thing an observer notices about Abby is her relentless high motor,” Fishman said on West’s athletic website. “With more observation, one sees a highly skilled player at both ends of the floor in Abby. She has worked so hard at expanding her offensive game to include 3-point shooting accuracy, a stellar pull-up and turn-around jump shot to complement her all-around floor game. … Notre Dame is getting a playmaker who can do it all.”
Notre Dame had always been kind of a “dream school” for Prohaska, she said, despite the fact none of her family members were Fighting Irish alums or fans of any of its teams. For some reason, she just loved the school growing up, and then it came into the picture as a potential college basketball option two summers ago when she was invited to a camp there.
Still, Prohaska did her due diligence in keeping her options open and also was considering Tennessee, Florida, Florida State, UCLA, Indiana, Iowa and Vanderbilt. She had visited them all except UCLA and had just attended a game at Notre Dame on Nov. 20, when her decision became clear.
“The atmosphere of the game, the atmosphere with the fans and everything was special and something every women’s basketball player would want to be a part of,” Prohaska said. “Being around the athletes and coaches there, it was pretty special. I just had an instant connection with Coach (Muffet) McGraw. I felt like that was the best place for me as a player. It ultimately came down to that and being close to my family, as well, and it’s a great program with great academics.”
The Fighting Irish earned a 71-60 win over Washington that day as part of their current 7-0 start.
McGraw, a three-time national coach of the year, is in her 30th season with the Irish, owning a .766 winning percentage with more than 700 wins and having guided the team to seven Final Fours and 13 Sweet Sixteens. Notre Dame finished 32-2 last season and is ranked No. 1 in the country in both the Associated Press and USA Today polls.
“Just watching how they interact with the girls and how they play them and what they look for, I liked her style,” Prohaska said of McGraw and her staff. “You earn your minutes, and I respect that as a player because it’s not all set in stone. So I can go in and earn playing time and it won’t matter that I’m a freshman.”
For now, Prohaska said she can focus on helping West to a third straight Greater Miami Conference championship. The Firebirds are 3-0 and face 2015-16 state finalist Mason on Saturday.
“It feels nice to have it figured out,” she said. “I feel like I can go out and play and be in high school now and not be fielding phone calls all the time.”
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