Taking It All In

When Russell Byrd was on Notre Dame's campus last November, Irish basketball coach Mike Brey popped in a tape from the 2003 season for the four-star talent to see.

Brey wanted Russell Byrd to see exactly what he'd be doing in a Notre Dame uniform, if the class-of-2010 wing player does eventually decide to ink with the Irish.

The guy Brey and Byrd were watching was Dan Miller, who did a little bit of everything, but was a staple along the perimeter, in helping lead Notre Dame to a Sweet 16 finish.

"I'm a shooter and he showed me what I'd be doing," the 6-foot-7, Fort Wayne, Ind., product said. "I enjoyed that."

As a sophomore at Blackhawk Christian, Byrd averaged 17 points and eight rebounds per game in helping his team advance to the regional title game. This summer on the AAU circuit, Byrd has been stroking the ball from three, and has seen his scholarship offer list grow to nine. Besides the Irish, Byrd also has full-rides on the table from Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Kentucky, Louisville, Iowa, Wake Forest and Baylor.

"I want to narrow it down maybe by the end of the AAU season and the beginning of the high school season, and definitely make a decision by this time next year," Byrd explained.

"I'm still open to anybody. Ohio State and Florida have really been recruiting me hard. I think they will offer at the end of the AAU season. I'm just taking it all in and considering all my options."

Byrd has been trying to see as many of his options as possible. This summer, he's been to Bloomington, Lexington, East Lansing, Ann Arbor, and Butler. Byrd has also taken in the campuses at Iowa and Purdue.

"I'm planning on going to see Ohio State in August," he said. "Just whatever we can fit in."

Which could also be a return trip to Notre Dame.

"I'm going to try to," Byrd said. "For a game maybe, or during the month of August."

When Byrd was in South Bend the last time, he arrived with his parents on Friday morning and met with the coaching staff and some of the players. He took in the football pep rally before the Navy game, and then caught an exhibition game later that night.

"I went up there last year and really enjoyed it. I got to meet the players. It's a nice atmosphere. It's not too big, only about 8,000 people. Coach Brey is awesome."

Notre Dame was the third program to offer Byrd, following Indiana and Iowa, and the Irish definitely have a chance to be there in the end when it's all said and done.

"Where they've gone the last three years," Byrd said of why ND has a chance of making his list of favorites. "They're top-four preseason ranking, I think that's what I heard. They just keep, lately they've been up and up and up. They got great recruiting classes. And coach Brey, I love coach Brey. A very personable guy. And the University itself, getting that degree. I know that football is the big thing there, but I think basketball is on the rise."

So is Byrd's game. He's put in a lot of work in the gym this summer.

"I've developed into more of a player that can get by people off the dribble, pump fake, and developed more of a mid-range game," Byrd said. Later this month, he will be in Orlando for AAU's Super Showcase and Nationals. "That's what people are starting to realize. I'm not just a shooter anymore, I'm more of a well-rounded player."

The Notre Dame football team has landed a well-rounded player in Tyler Eifert, who happens to be a buddy of Byrd's. The two played some AAU hoops together, and hail from the same city.

"I think he can go up there after his senior year and tell me what he thought of the environment, and what he thought of the people, not just the basketball players, but the professors and his friends," Byrd explained. "I think that will help."

Byrd has a 3.3 GPA.

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