Ryan wants immediate impact

Hoops signee Matt Ryan is prepping for the next level while tracking Notre Dame through the NCAA Tournament. The 6-foot-8 forward plans to help the Irish build off the ACC Tournament title.

Matt Ryan watched from a distance last weekend as his future teammates made history.

Notre Dame went through Miami, Duke and North Carolina on its way to a first ACC Tournament championship as a league member for just the second season. Ryan, a small forward who signed with the Irish last fall, couldn’t help but enjoy the historic run.

“It was unbelievable,” Ryan said. “The way they came together like that and beating North Carolina and Duke in a span of 24 hours, it was amazing. I don’t think anybody expected them to do that and I think that helped them play better.”

Ryan is coming off a strong senior season at Iona Prep in New Rochelle, N.Y., with preparations underway to join the Irish this summer.

Iona Prep finished 23-6 while Ryan averaged about 18 points, seven rebounds and three assists per game. He did all that while playing at about “70 percent” after undergoing surgery on both hips as a junior.

Notre Dame loses Jerian Grant and Pat Connaughton to graduation, so Ryan wants to be prepared for playing time.

“I definitely didn’t have the year that I hoped for,” Ryan said. “But I understood coming off surgery I wasn’t gonna be where I would’ve loved to be. Now in the offseason and definitely over the summer at Notre Dame, that’s when I’m really gonna focus on getting to 100 percent. Honestly, during the year I was playing at about 70 percent. I couldn’t even jump off one foot. But now the season is over. I can just relax for a week or two then focus in on getting to 100 percent.”

Plans between now and June include more physical therapy to increase hip flexibility and explosiveness, plus the usual regimen of jump shots and skill work.

“Right now it’s the middle of March so the next two-and-a-half months I’m gonna be totally focused on my hips and my overall strength,” Ryan said. “I’ll get my conditioning up so I can go into Notre Dame not just counting on them to get me ready but hopefully almost be 100 percent when I go there.”

There are also at least a couple more games at the prep level for the 6-foot-8 forward.

Ryan will participate in the Kentucky Derby Festival Basketball Classic on April 11 in Louisville, the Jordan Brand Regional Game on April 17 in Brooklyn and the Mary Kline Classic on May 30 in West Orange, N.J., a trio of all-star events. He’ll be joined by Irish signee Elijah Burns at the Jordan Brand game.

Notre Dame forward Bonzie Colson took part in the Kentucky Derby game last year. Past participants include former NBA stars Moses Malone, Pervis Ellison, Penny Hardaway, Jamal Mashburn and Dominique Wilkins.

“It means a lot,” Ryan said of his selection. “I’m definitely really excited about going there and actually playing with one of my best friends forever, Donovan Mitchell. He’s going to Louisville. I’m really looking forward to playing with him and going down there and experiencing the oldest All-American game in the country. Coach (Martin) Ingelsby said Bonzie was down there last year and had a great time.”

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