Smiles Around

While playing at an open gym last week, Tom Droney looked to the sideline and could see something major was going on. Notre Dame coach Mike Brey and assistant Rod Balanis were in attendance, and so were his parents.

Everyone looked thrilled.

"I saw my mom get a big smile over there, I thought something was happening," Tom Droney said.

The 6-foot-6 guard out of Sewickley (Pa.) Academy was soon smiling big as well. Brey and Balanis were in attendance to personally offer Droney a scholarship.

"They were real excited about my versatility and my ability to play and handle the ball," the class-of-2010 standout said. "(Brey) said there'd be a good chance of me getting a lot of playing time, because when I'm a freshman I think that would be Ben Hansbrough's senior year, so they think I'd have a chance to step in and play right away.

"He thinks highly of me," Droney said of Brey. "He likes my height at 6-6. He thinks I can read over the defense, and he thinks I'd be capable of playing the one, two or three, which is good. I could cause a lot of match-up problems."

After averaging 21 points, seven rebounds and five assists as a sophomore, Notre Dame isn't the only program that thinks highly of Droney. He has also collected scholarship offers from nearby Pittsburgh, Wake Forest, Davidson, Virginia, West Virginia, St. Joseph, Duquesne and Penn State.

As early as Droney has garnered his scholarship offers, he's narrowed down his list of favorites nearly as fast. The three lucky schools he's still considering is the Irish, the Panthers and Davidson.

"I've kind of sped up the process a little bit," Droney said. "I was going to make a decision within the next week or two, but I'm not going to give any specific timetable. It could be a week, it could be a year. When I get that gut feeling, that's when I'll know.

"Basically, my family and I are looking for a great basketball school, as long as it's a good academic school."

With Pittsburgh's campus being so close, Droney has been there several times. He could visit Notre Dame and Davidson one more time before ultimately deciding.

South Bend definitely isn't foreign to Droney. His grandfather graduated from Notre Dame, he attended basketball camp at the school when he was younger, and Droney has been inside Notre Dame Stadium plenty of times for football games. The most recent, an unofficial visit to check out the basketball program the weekend of Sept. 6th, when the Irish football team opened the season against San Diego State.

"I like the campus a lot," Droney said. "It's really, really nice, and the tradition there is unbelievable.

"They're a great team," he continued. "They did great last year. I think they went 12-4 in the Big East. I love the staff, and the players are really nice. When I visited, I got to scrimmage with the team, and guys like Luke Harangody and Kyle McAlarney, they're great players but they're also great people."

Droney keeps in touch with Balanis on a regular basis through email, and occasionally on the phone.

As the Notre Dame staff has identified Droney as one of their top recruits in the class of 2010, more trips to the Sewickley gym will be more frequent as well. Top Stories