High-SchoolPlayer-of-the-Year: Pat Connaughton
February, 2, 2012
By Chad Konecky | ESPN.com
Associated PressNotre Dame forward Pat Connaughton is earning valuable minutes for the Irish just a year after capturing Gatorade Massachusetts Boys Basketball Player of the Year honors.Notre Dame’s enigmatic men’s basketball team brings an 11-1 home record into Saturday’s South Bend showdown with No. 15 Marquette, but clutch play in a New England homecoming for freshman Pat Connaughton helped the Irish (14-8) open the week with a huge road win at UConn.
Connaughton, the 2010-11 Gatorade Massachusetts Boys Basketball Player of the Year, earned loud cheers this past weekend at Hartford’s packed XL Center, situated just 105 miles from where he spent his high school career at St. John’s Prep (Danvers, Mass.).
“It was so sweet to have such support in the stands,” said the 6-foot-5 forward, who turned 19 last month. "My dad said there were almost 300 people here who came out to see me. It was a great feeling, especially since we came away with a win.”
Sunday’s 50-48 victory was the third straight for the Irish (6-3 Big East), a stretch that included knocking former No. 1 Syracuse (22-1; 9-1) from their perch. Despite a 3-7 record away from Purcell Pavilion, Notre Dame is already receiving votes on ballots in the AP Top 25 poll. Connaughton is averaging 6.1 points and four rebounds in just under 22 minutes per game.