Jackie Young: Notre Dame’s best player might be their most overlooked starter

Notre Dame returns one of the best lineups in women’s college basketball. Arike Ogunbowale is a preseason AP All-American and the preseason ACC player of the year. Ogunbowale, Brianna Turner, Marina Mabrey and Jessica Shepard were all tabbed as preseason All-ACC. The only Irish starter missing from the above list of preseason honors? Jackie Young.

Jackie Young scored a career high 32 points on 67% shooting in Notre Dame’s Final Four victory over UConn. | Photo Credit: Ian Bethune

Young, who is now in her junior season, had an impressive sophomore year for the Irish. She averaged 14.5 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game last year. All three of those per game stats ranked in the top 10% in the nation. Young did a little bit of everything for Notre Dame as one of only 24 players in the country to average at least 14 points, 6 boards, and 3 assists.

The highlight of Young’s sophomore year came in the Final Four match-up with UConn. After putting up just two points on only 20 percent shooting when the Irish lost to the Huskies earlier in the season, Young had a career night in March. Ogunbowale’s buzzer-beater may have captured national attention, but it was Young’s career-high 32-point performance that put the Irish in position for Ogunbowale’s deciding shot.

Young shot 67 percent from the floor that night and was 10-of-11 from the free throw line, which amounted to 1.60 points per scoring attempt. She also added 11 rebounds to send Notre Dame to the championship game.

With six games under her belt in her junior season, Young is on track for another impressive year. She is currently averaging 18.3 points per game (97th percentile), scoring 1.31 points per scoring attempt (93rd percentile)and 1.11 points per possession (94th percentile).

She also continues to be an all-around player for the Irish, averaging 7.2 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game so far. Compared to Ogunbowale, Shepard, and Turner (Mabrey has played just two games due to injury, but has now returned to the lineup), Young leads in assists per game, points per scoring attempt, assist-to-turnover ratio (2.07) and assist rate (24.2%). She is their most efficient scorer and facilitator.

As if she wasn’t already so versatile for the Irish, Young also significantly improved her three-point shot in the off-season. After making just 11 threes all of last season, she had 3 against Oregon State (No. 9) in a close game last Saturday. So far she is shooting over 46 percent from three, compared to 28 percent last season.

Heading into the weekend, Jackie Young and Notre Dame face their biggest test of the season so far. As the Irish look to keep their number one ranking, they’ll look to Young to have another big night against the Huskies. Luckily for them, if the first six games of the season are any indication, she’s ready to step up to the challenge.

Catch Jackie Young in action for Notre Dame against UConn, Sunday at 4:00 p.m. ET on ESPN.

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