Notre Dame has visited Elijah Burns more than the 6-foot-8, 220-pound forward from Blairstown, N.J., has seen the Irish. In fact, the three-star prospect who plays for the Albany City Rocks on the AAU circuit has never seen Notre Dame at all.
Yet with head coach Mike Brey along with assistants Anthony Solomon and Martin Ingelsby giving chase through the summer, including all three scouting Burns at the Nike Invitational in South Carolina this weekend, the forward felt like he knew a little something about the program in advance. And with a couple friends from Blair Academy at Notre Dame already, Burns picked up some perspective on student life before experiencing it himself.
It was enough to convince Burns to commit to Notre Dame on Saturday morning.
"I just have a good feeling about Notre Dame already and I've done a lot of research," Burns said. "I know people who go there that I trust a lot, I'd trust them with my life. I know they'd never steer me wrong."
Burns plans to take his official visit to Notre Dame on Sept. 6.
The Irish beat out finalists Seton Hall, George Washington, Temple and VCU. All four of those programs had received visits.
For Notre Dame, the athletic-academic combination helped set the Irish apart.
So did Brey.
"I have a good relationship with him and you can't pass up Notre Dame," Burns said. "It's a great academic school and they play good basketball in the best league in the country. With a Notre Dame degree, you're going to be set for life."
Burns projects as a power forward in Notre Dame's system after a junior season averaging about 10 points and seven rebounds per game. Burns said he doesn't have consistent three-point range, but that remains a major point of improvement in his game heading into his senior season.
As for Notre Dame's basketball reputation, which took a hit last season as the Irish didn't make the NCAA tournament or any postseason bracket, Burns sees opportunity. He knows forward Zach Auguste from the AAU circuit and has some insight into the dynamics around the Irish program from him.
"It was a down season but that didn't really disappoint me," Burns said. "I can pick it up next year, I can go in there, help out, contribute."
Burns is Notre Dame's second verbal commitment, following 6-foot-7, 220-pound forward Matt Ryan of New Rochelle, N.Y., who committed to Notre Dame on July 11.