For Ali Patberg, Notre Dame just wasn’t “a good fit” basketball-wise.
The 2015 Indiana Miss Basketball and McDonald’s All-American from Columbus North decided a week ago that she would transfer from one of the top women’s basketball programs in the country.
“I enjoy school,” Patberg said. “I also like basketball, and as a Division I athlete, that’s all you do. I want to be happy, and I have a second opportunity, so I’m going to make the most of it.”
Patberg has had a rough two years in South Bend. She tore an ACL in preseason practice before her freshman year and had to miss all of that season.
Then, illnesses on two separate occasions this year caused her to miss multiple games each time.
“It’s just been a really hard two years for me there,” Patberg said. “I smiled through it all, but at the end of the day, I’m still standing.”
But this year, she had trouble cracking Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw’s playing rotation. The 5-foot-11 point guard saw action in 22 games, averaging 7.7 minutes a game, and averaged 0.8 points.
Starting point guard Lindsay Allen was picked in the second round of last week’s WNBA Draft, but the Irish have brought in All-PAC 12 guard Lili Thompson as a transfer from Stanford. Patberg said that had little to do with her decision to transfer.
“It wasn’t really anything about playing time,” Patberg said. “It just wasn’t a good fit for me, and I told coach that. She wanted me to stay, but she wants me to be happy. That’s the most important thing to her.”
Patberg, who carries a 3.6 GPA as a finance major, is a sophomore academically and was a redshirt-freshman athletically this season. If she transfers to another Division I school, she will have to sit out next year and would have only two years of eligibility remaining.
During Patberg’s fifth year, her school can apply for an extra year of eligibility based on the medical hardship.
“I can’t bank on three years of eligibility after I sit out,” Patberg said. “But there’s a really good chance that I’ll be able to because I was sick twice, and I missed eight or nine games (this year). I want that (extra year). I want to play college basketball as long as I can.”
Patberg said she was going to sit down with her family today or Monday and narrow down a list of schools to visit. She already knows of four schools she wants to visit, and they’re all in the Big Ten — Indiana University, Michigan, Michigan State and Northwestern.
Those schools had contacted an intermediary in Notre Dame’s compliance office about contacting Patberg.
“I’m going to be in a new system, and I’m going to be with new coaches and new teammates, so I think that’s probably a good time for me to grow,” Patberg said. “I haven’t been full strength since the summer after high school. I’m going to have a lot of time to get stronger and be where I was before.”
Patberg, who led the Bull Dogs to the Class 4A state championship as a senior in 2015 and won the IHSAA Mental Attitude Award, had committed to the Fighting Irish as a sophomore in high school.
She plans to finish out the school year at Notre Dame.
“I talked a lot with my family and my coaches, and they wanted me to stay,” Patberg said. “But life’s too short, and I followed my heart. It’s going to be hard, but they all want me to do what’s best for me, and so do my teammates. I’m lucky that I have a lot of support.”
Name: Ali Patberg
High school: Columbus North
College: Notre Dame
Year: Sophomore academically, redshirt-freshman athletically
Position: Point guard
Key honors: Named 2015 Indiana Miss Basketball, McDonald’s All-American and Jordan Brand All-American; led Columbus North to 2015 Class 4A state title and helped USA to 2015 FIBA U19 Women’s World Championship