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Irish on guard for next season

3 guards sign with men's basketball team

Notre Dame filled a need for the future on the first day of the early signing period for basketball.

The Irish added guards Eric Atkins (Mount St. Joseph in Columba, Md.), Alex Dragicevich (Glenbrook North in Northbrook, Ill.) and Jerian Grant (DeMatha in Bowie, Md.) on Wednesday.

The three, who will enroll in the fall of 2010, will have a chance to play right away as guards Tory Jackson, Jonathan Peoples and Ben Hansbrough graduate after this season.

Atkins is likely to gain playing time the quickest.

The 6-foot-1, 170-pounder is a true point guard, who averaged 23.4 points and 6 assists as a junior.

"He has a point guard mentality," coach Mike Brey said of Atkins. "It's a need we really need given what we are losing in Jon and Tory. The communicator is what really sold it for me. He's got great quickness. He's got great length, and he still may be growing a little bit."

While Atkins has a leg up on his fellow signees, Dragicevich and Grant could also factor into the mix at guard next season.

Dragicevich is a 6-6, 210-pound shooting guard who averaged 20.9 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists last season.

"He can handle the ball, has a great feel for the game, shoots it; the whole package" Brey said. "He can play any position on the perimeter."

Grant is 6-5, 180 pounds and averaged 7.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 6 assists as a junior.

"(He's) an athletic, slashing, scoring guard, who handles the ball really well," Brey said.

Brey said he expects the guards to be ready to play when they come to Notre Dame thanks to their pedigree.

"They come from cities where the lights have been bright, and they've played big high school games and competitive AAU games. They've played against college guys at the rec center," Brey said. "I feel they are going to be ready as freshman."

Notre Dame still has one scholarship remaining for next season, and Brey said he is keeping is eyes open for the best way to fill the last spot.