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From Princeton to South Bend: Senior captain Matt Allocco tries his luck with the Fighting Irish

A man dribbling a ball on a basketball court with a defender attempting to guard him.
Allocco averaged 12.7 points per game this past season on 50/40/90 shooting splits
Ammaar Alam / The Daily Princetonian

Only eight players in NCAA history have averaged over 30 minutes and 12 points per game while shooting at least 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from beyond the arc, and 90 percent from the charity stripe.

One of those eight is men’s basketball senior guard and captain Matt “Mush” Allocco. 


Allocco will be spending his final year of eligibility as a grad transfer in South Bend, Ind. playing in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) for the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish. 

“Notre Dame was the best fit,” Allocco said in an interview with the Daily Princetonian. “I just trusted what the coaches were saying and their vision for me and the team. Once I took the visit there, it was pretty clear that was going to be the spot.”

Allocco considered multiple Power Five programs, but said the decision came down to two programs: Ohio State and Notre Dame.

A native of Hilliard, Ohio, which is just outside Columbus, Ohio State University was in Allocco’s backyard. Allocco mentioned that he was thankful and honored for Ohio State to be an opportunity in and of itself. 

“I had a great visit at Ohio State and I loved their staff and their program,” Allocco noted. “We had a couple of great meetings and everything, but I just felt like Notre Dame was the best fit.”

Should Allocco have decided to play for the Buckeyes, he would have been faced with a competitive guard rotation, including South Carolina guard Meechie Johnson, who recently announced he was transferring back to Ohio State.


“For the basketball part of it, it’s just where you would fit, the lineups they have, who they have potentially leaving and coming in, you know, you got to consider all these things,” Allocco noted.

When asked if NIL (Name, Image, and Likeness) played a factor in the decision, Allocco said it did, but was not a main factor. “In this day and age, I think it plays a role for everybody,” Allocco told the ‘Prince.’ “And it did, and you know, I’ll be honest, in my decision, but ultimately, I wouldn’t say that’s what the deciding factor was — it was a basketball decision.”

As of April 18, Allocco is Notre Dame’s only commit from the transfer portal. 

“It was a long process and pretty exhausting,” Allocco told the ‘Prince.’ “It was necessary to take my time and not rush the process.” 

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For Allocco, the connection to Notre Dame runs in the family. His uncle, Frank Allocco, played varsity football and basketball at Notre Dame in the early 70’s. Frank Allocco was a part of the 1973 Fighting Irish football team that won the national championship after defeating Alabama 24–23. 

“I’ve been a [Notre Dame football] fan all my life,” Allocco noted. “I grew up going to football games and seeing the campus.”

However, Allocco stressed that his familial connections to the program did not play a role in his decision to ultimately commit to Notre Dame.

Allocco will likely step into a big role for the Fighting Irish. Outside of being a senior leader for the Tigers this past season, his efficiency will be a major help to head coach Micah Shrewsberry’s squad that finished 330th in field goal percentage last season. During his visit, Shrewsberry showed Allocco game film, highlighting how he could be used on the court and contribute to the program.

“They were enthusiastic conversations,” Allocco added. “He’s [Shrewberry] passionate about what he does and the university.”

Furthermore, Allocco‘s defensive skills will help protect the ball on a team that finished 335th in assist-to-turnover ratio last season. 

Allocco will join a very young Notre Dame team. The program’s leading scorers — Markus Burton and Braeden Shrewsberry — were both first-year players. While Burton entered his name in the 2024 NBA draft, reports suggest he will return for his sophomore season. Furthermore, the Fighting Irish have a top-25 recruiting class in the country next season. 

“I’m just going to try and come in, do my part, contribute, lead as best I can and also learn from them. I’m joining a new program and a lot of those guys have been there. So, I’m looking forward to building those relationships and, you know, learning from them, and hopefully, they can learn a few things from me,” he reflected.

Due to the Ivy League rule prohibiting grad transfers, Allocco will join a list of recent Tiger graduates to use their COVID-19 eligibility year through the transfer portal. Fellow senior Tiger Zach Martini will be heading to Rutgers. Former Tiger standout Ryan Langborg ’23 transferred to Northwestern last spring while Jaelin Llewellyn ’22 committed to Michigan after his senior year at Princeton.

The main advice that Allocco received from his friends and coaches was to trust himself.

“It’s just all about trusting your gut,” Allocco noted. “Those are some of the biggest things that you know if you can see yourself thriving there and building relationships with these people. That’s a lot of the advice that I got.”

“I just tried to be a sounding board for him if he needed anything,” Head Coach Mitch Henderson ’98 wrote to the ‘Prince.’ “Mush sees through just about anything, so the main advice was just trust yourself.”

Furthermore, Allocco is the second Ivy transfer in recent years to head to South Bend. In 2021, Yale’s Paul Atkinson also used his extra year of eligibility to transfer to Notre Dame. Atkinson went on to average 12.5 points per game and led Notre Dame back to the NCAA tournament.

“Mush is a winner through and through. It was clear to everyone in this process that they see that in him and want him to bring those intangibles to their program,” Henderson added.

After playing in every game for the Tigers for the last three seasons, Allocco’s absence will be felt on and off the court for the Tigers.

On the court, he succeeded in every aspect of the game. Allocco was a two-time second-team All-Ivy honoree and received a third-team All-Met selection by the Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association this season. Off the court, Allocco was a locker room figure and a leader for his teammates.

“The thing that I’ll miss the most, but also cherish the most, is just the relationships I built, specifically with the basketball team and my teammates, former teammates, and the coaching staff has been so good to me,” Allocco noted. “I mean, I couldn’t ask for a better experience than I had here these past four years.”

Should sophomore guard Xaivian Lee return to Princeton, the Tigers will have a strong core and likely be favorites to win the Ivy League.  

“I have no concerns with that group,” Allocco added. 

Hayk Yengibaryan is an associate Sports editor for the ‘Prince.’

Tate Hutchins contributed reporting.

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