April 13, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame men’s basketball team capped off its remarkable 2014-15 campaign on Monday evening at the fourth annual An Evening with Notre Dame Basketball as a sellout crowd of more than 600 fans paid tribute to one of the most impressive teams and seasons in the program’s 110-year history.
The Fighting Irish were saluted for the second 30-win season in school history, a first-ever Atlantic Coast Conference championship and a run to the NCAA Championship Elite Eight for the first time since 1979. Notre Dame finished the season with a 32-6 record (one shy of the school record for wins) and a 14-4 ACC mark. The Irish recorded the second-best turnaround in Notre Dame and ACC history following the 2013-14 season in which they finished with a 15-17 overall record and 6-12 mark in league play. For the first time since the 1978-79 campaign the Irish finished in the top-10 in both the Associated Press and Coaches’ polls as Notre Dame finished eighth in the final AP ranking and fifth in the final USA Today Coaches’ poll.
To no surprise, Irish seniors Pat Connaughton (Arlington, Massachusetts) and Jerian Grant (Bowie, Maryland) shared the evening’s top award as they were named the recipients of the Notre Dame Monogram Club MVP Award. Connaughton also was the recipient of the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley Rockne Student-Athlete Award.
Junior forward Zach Auguste (Marlborough, Massachusetts) earned the Most Improved Player Award, while sophomores Demetrius Jackson (Mishawaka, Indiana) and Steve Vasturia (Medford, New Jersey) took home Outstanding Playmaker and Defensive Player of the Year honors, respectively. In addition, freshman Bonzie Colson (New Bedford, Massachusetts) received the Newcomer of the Year Award presented by Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center.
The duo of Connaughton and Grant forever will be linked to the success of the past basketball season as they were the catalysts behind this season’s success, thanks to their play on the floor and their leadership on and off the hardwood. Together, they produced staggering numbers over the past four seasons as they combined for 3,204 points, 250 games played, 240 starts, 1,166 rebounds, 947 assists, 268 steals and 8,821 minutes played (34.2 minutes per game).
Connaughton, a third-team all-ACC honoree, averaged 12.5 points (third on the team) and a team-leading 7.4 rebounds. He played in more games (139) than any other player in Notre Dame history (never missing a game) and started 123 of those contests (third all-time). Connaughton made 120 consecutive starts to rank as just one of three players at Notre Dame to make 100 or more consecutive starts.
He finished as the eighth player in school history with better than 1,400 points and 800 rebounds. His 1,465 career points ranks him 16th all-time on the Notre Dame career scoring list. Connaughton scored in double figures 26 times during the season and on 74 occasions throughout his career. He netted 20-plus points on three occasions in 2014-15 and 11 times in four seasons. Connaughton registered 10-plus rebound 10 times during his senior season and 20 times in his career. He also led the Irish with nine double-doubles this season and registered 16 during his career.
Connaughton was named to the NCAA Championship Midwest Region All-Tournament Team and was a first team ACC All-Tournament Team honoree. He averaged 10.0 points and 7.3 rebounds during Notre Dame’s four NCAA tournament contests and 11.9 points and 5.9 rebounds during its six postseason (ACC and NCAA) games.
Named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll in 2014, Connaughton will graduate next month with a degree in management consulting from Notre Dame’s prestigious Mendoza College of Business.
Grant was a first team All-America selection by nearly every major outlet during the past season. A John R. Wooden Award finalist, he was named to the Wooden All-America team and was a first team All-America selection by the Associated Press, the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) and the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA). He also was a second-team selection by the Sporting News.
Grant is the only player in Notre Dame history to score more than 1,700 points, dish off 600 assists, make 150 steals and block 30 shots. He finished his career with 1,739 points, 690 assists, 175 steals and 37 blocked shots. Grant also grabbed 343 rebounds during the 119 games he played in during his career. He started 117 of those contests to rank fifth all-time in that category.
Grant finished 11th on Notre Dame’s career scoring list, third in assists and fifth in steals. He was one of two players nationally in 2014-15 to score more than 600 points, dish off 200 assists and make 50 steals during the season. Grant also was the seventh player in ACC history to accomplish that feat.
He registered double-figure scoring efforts 99 times during his career (34 times during the 2014-15 campaign) and led the Irish in scoring on 47 occasions in the 119 games he played. Grant finished with 20 or points 11 times and in 25 career contests. He recorded five double-doubles during the past season and nine for his career.
A first-team all-ACC selection, Grant was named MVP of the ACC Tournament after averaging 16.7 points and 6.3 assists. The unanimous first team All-ACC pick also was named to the league’s all-defensive team. Grant led the Irish in scoring (628 points), assists (253) and steals (63) this season. He played every minute (165) of Notre Dame’s four NCAA Tournament games and averaged 14.3 points and 6.8 assists.
Auguste had a breakout season for the Irish as Notre Dame’s second-leading scorer (12.9 ppg.) and rebounder (6.5 rpg.). Named to the NCAA Championship Midwest Region All-Tournament Team, he scored 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds in 27 minutes in the 68-66 loss to top-ranked Kentucky in the Midwest Region championship tilt.
After averaging 6.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and starting 13 of 30 games for the Irish last season, Auguste started 36 of the 37 games he played and led the Irish in soring 10 times during season and in rebounding on 14 occasions. Auguste netted double-figures 28 times and topped the 20-point mark on five occasions. He grabbed 10-plus rebounds in five outings and registered a career-best four double-doubles.
Auguste led the Irish in scoring (16.8 ppg.) and rebounding (8.3 rpg.) throughout Notre Dame’s four-game run in the NCAA Tournament while averaging 29.5 minutes per game.
Jackson got the nod as Notre Dame’s starting point guard in all 38 contests this season and he averaged 12.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.6 steals while averaging 34.7 minutes per game. He led the Irish in scoring in six contests and registered double-figure scoring efforts in 30 games. Jackson netted 20 points, grabbed four rebounds and dished off four assists in Notre Dame’s 81-70 win over Wichita State in the regional semifinals that marked the fourth 20-point scoring effort of the season and in his career.
Jackson netted a career-high 22 points in wins over Michigan State and Purdue this season, grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds against Boston College and dished off a personal-best eight assists in Notre Dame’s win over Notre Dame’s 69-65 win over Northeastern in the second round of the NCAA Championship. He also was named to the ACC all-tournament second team. Jackson averaged 11.0 points, 2.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists in Notre Dame’s four games during the NCAA Championship.
Like his classmate Jackson, Vasturia proved to play a key role for the Irish this season as he was one of four players who started all 38 games. He averaged 10.1 points and 3.0 rebounds in Notre Dame’s four NCAA tournament contests and was the third-leading scorer for the Irish in the postseason as he averaged 13.3 points and 3.0 rebounds. Vasturia also led Notre Dame with 13 steals.
Vasturia scored a career-high 20 points (his first career 20-plus point outing) against Butler in Notre Dame’s 67-64 victory that sent the Irish into the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2003. In the regional semifinal win over Wichita State, he netted 15 points and then followed that up with a 16-point effort against Kentucky.
A first team all-ACC Tournament honoree, Vasturia reached double figures on 21 occasions and averaged 32.5 minutes per game.
Colson logged more minutes than any other Irish rookie this season as he averaged 12.1 points per game while playing in 32 contests. He earned his first start of the season in Notre Dame’s 75-70 win over Miami. Colson saw increased playing time as the season progressed and went on to average 5.6 points and 2.7 rebounds. He scored in double figures in five games during the season, including two career-high 17-point performances against Louisville during the regular season and Duke in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament. He also grabbed a career-high nine rebounds in 16 minutes in Notre Dame’s 71-59 win at Louisville.