Connaughton continues Notre Dame success in the NBA
Former Irish star Pat Connaughton was a captain and integral member of the Elite 8 team in 2015. Since then he has spent four seasons in the NBA - three in Portland and this year with the Milwaukee Bucks.
Connaughton's stats have improved each year that he's been in the NBA. He is averaging 6 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists per game in 18 minutes of action.
And he's showing off his signature monster dunks that Irish fans love.
"I feel like my development has come a long way. I think, obviously, here at Notre Dame, our goal was to win as many games as possible and I think we played a great brand of basketball. I think I was able to do some things here that I may not do in the NBA, play the forward. I'm not as big as I would need to be, as tall. You can't teach height, things like that. So to get back to my normal position, playing a shooting guard, playing a guard and developing those skills that come along with it. Not just have success, but to have success in the NBA has been a work in progress," said Connaughton.
The Bucks are battling for the lead in the Eastern Conference and are currently in first in the Central Division.
Connaughton has the opportunity to play alongside one of the most exciting players in the league, the "Greek Freak" something he couldn't wait to do.
"Obviously, he's in the positive way, a freak of nature. He's built and the things he's been able to do on the basketball court are incredible. So to play with him I think will be really cool and hopefully, something that will help benefit me because of the amount of attention he takes up," Connaughton said.
Connaughton knows what it takes to win, leading the Irish to the ACC Conference championship his senior year averaging 12 points and 7 rebounds per game.
But baseball was actually Connaughton's first love.
As a pitcher he was drafted by Major League Baseball's San Diego Padres right out of high school, but turned down the offer and accepted the scholarship to be a two sport athlete at Notre Dame.
By his junior year in South Bend he was drafted again by the Baltimore Orioles in 2014.
While he is pursuing his basketball dreams right now, he isn't closing the door on baseball.
"They're two sports that I love. But for me, I think it's about taking advantage of the opportunity I have in basketball right now and then, maybe try baseball later on. I've always tried to be somebody that preaches to kids 'You don't have to specialize at a young age, let alone or at any age, let alone a young age,'" Connaughton said.
Will he ever go back to baseball?
"That's the goal, that's the goal. Obviously, right now, I'm focused on being the best basketball player I can be. But someday, it would be great to try to be the best baseball player I can be," Connaughton said.
Connaughton says if it weren't for his relationship with Notre Dame Head Coach Mike Brey, he may never have had these opportunities.
"He helped me a lot, just his knowledge for the game, but in the confidence he instilled in me since my freshmen year. Without Notre Dame, I don't know if I'd be a pro in either sport. Coach Aoki did the same thing for me in baseball. A lot of coaching staffs would've tried to pull me in one direction or the other. They worked together to help try to excel me in both and without that, I wouldn't have been able to hear my name called on two different draft boards," Connaughton said.
And just in case professional careers in basketball and baseball aren't enough Connaughton has started a real estate development firm with his dad.
They buy, sell and rent commercial and residential properties on both the east and west coasts and even here near the Notre Dame campus, so Connaughton comes back to the area often.