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Irish's Pat Connaughton might be drafted -- in baseball -- next week

By Matt Norlander | Staff Writer

Pat Connaughton is a two-sport college star with a chance at the pros -- in baseball. (USATSI)

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You might not have known, but Notre Dame senior swingman Pat Connaughton is also a pretty solid pitcher. He went 3-5 and had a 3.92 ERA for the Irish's baseball team this past season.

That stat line's not as good as his 13.8 points and 7.1 rebounds average last season for Mike Brey on the hoops team, but nonetheless Connaughton has emerged as a pro baseball prospect. Still, he's not taking a major step toward continuing his hardball career just yet. According to a report by the Associated Press, Connaughton will stay on campus for one more year and seek his degree in business.

Unless for some reason he's taken exceptionally high in the forthcoming MLB Draft, which runs from June 5-7.

What he might be able to do in the coming months: allow himself to be drafted by an MLB team, play in the minor leagues for roughly eight weeks, then return to hoops and take the scheduled offseason Italy trip with the basketball team before returning to school and preparing for his senior season on the hardwood.

He'll be a big piece for ND next season; the Irish are looking to be in good shape with the return of formerly suspended guard Jerian Grant.

"I think teams are intrigued to what happens when I start playing basketball full time," Connaughton told the AP, hedging his statement by saying he'd reconsider not returning if he was drafted high enough. "I'm going to have to think about that then. But I think I'm pretty set on coming back to school and playing basketball and finishing my degree."

If the story sounds familiar, consider Notre Dame's had this situation before, only with football/baseball. Current Chicago Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija was a really good wide receiver. He opted to play pros in baseball instead of football, and it seems to be working out pretty well for him.

Per Connaughton, the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are among the teams open to selecting him while he finishes out his hoops career. He also told the AP that "10 to 15" teams are already saying they won't draft him if he continues to play college hoops.

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