ND women add another five-star guard in Hannah Hidalgo

Anthony Anderson
Tribune Correspondent
Paul VI junior Hannah Hidalgo scores two of her 26 points with an acrobatic move to avoid Mainland sophomore Bella Mazur

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SOUTH BEND — On guard, Notre Dame women’s basketball opponents, on guard!

The Irish added their third high school class of 2023 five-star guard of the NCAA’s early signing period — and the best-rated one yet — when Hannah Hidalgo announced Tuesday night live on Instagram that she has chosen ND.

Hidalgo’s commitment and accompanying signing makes Notre Dame the only school to land three players in ESPN’s top 20. All of the top 100 have now made their choices.

Notre Dame coach Niele Ivey comes 'full-circle' with coaching return to native St. Louis

Notre Dame women's basketball adds Canadian Cassandre Prosper to 2023 class

Hidalgo engaged in some playful fun during her declaration inside the Paul VI High School gym in Haddonfield, N.J., as dozens of friends and family looked on.

She initially began to put on a Stanford hat, then flipped to a Notre Dame hat, then flipped to a Duke hat (she also had Michigan, Ohio State and UCF among her finalists).

Finally, she turned her back to the camera, unzipped her jacket and put on another cap. When she turned back around, she was wearing a Notre Dame T-shirt and hat.

The crowd erupted with joy over her decision as she ran over to the seating area.

“A lot of prayer behind this,” Hidalgo tweeted earlier in the day as part of a post that included an elaborate one-minute video that also teased viewers about her choice.

“It’s been a conflicting decision,” Hidalgo said in the video as she thanked family and coaches for support and cited her faith as guiding her.

The 5-foot-6 Hidalgo, ranked No. 5 overall in her class by ESPN and No. 1 among point guards, joins 6-2 guard/forward Cassandre Prosper and 6-2 sharpshooter Emma Risch as early signing period commits for the Irish.

“Hannah brings swag, competitiveness and a relentless drive that will instantly elevate our program,” ND coach Niele Ivey said in a release posted by the university shortly after Hidalgo’s announcement. “She is multi-dimensional, lightning-fast and tenacious defensively with a scorer’s mentality and a high basketball IQ. Hannah does a great job of pushing pace and making everyone around her better.”

Hidalgo helped Team USA go 7-0 and win gold at the U17 FIBA World Cup last summer in Hungary.

On a team that spread the wealth, she averaged 7.7 points, 2.9 assists and 2.6 steals over 16 minutes per contest.

In high school last winter, Hidalgo, from Merchantville, N.J., led Paul VI — coached by her father, Orlando — to a 24-4 record and South Jersey Non-Public A state runner-up honors.

Entering her fourth year as a starter, she has recorded career averages of 21.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 5.4 steals while helping the Eagles go 61-9.

In a media huddle late Tuesday afternoon, Ivey could not yet comment on Hidalgo, whose announcement was still pending, but expressed delight over the addition of Prosper, which was made official by the Irish a day earlier.

“She is a perfect fit for us, she is phenomenal,” Ivey said of Prosper, who hails from Canada. “Had an opportunity to watch her in Hungary. She’s top five in the world, not just Canada. … Unbelievable athlete.”

While Prosper’s generally been described by scouts as a forward, “she’s a guard to me,” Ivey said. “Obviously with Team Canada, she’s had to play different roles, but I see her as a guard. She’s a big guard. She can do all things. She can defend, she can rebound, block shots and she can score at all three levels.”

Risch became the first of the trio to commit to ND, signing last week near the start of the NCAA’s early period.

Ivey called Risch “one of the best shooters I’ve seen” since Alicia Ratay, who was a teammate of Ivey’s on Notre Dame’s 2001 national title team. Ratay finished her Irish career as the NCAA’s all-time leader in career 3-point percentage at 47.6.

Risch is ranked No. 20 in the 2023 class by ESPN and Prosper No. 16 to go with Hidalgo’s No. 5.

The only other schools with three players among the top 25 recruits on that list are Arizona at Nos. 8, 14 and 21, and defending national champion South Carolina at Nos. 13, 17 and 25.

LSU is the lone school with two top-10 recruits, at Nos. 2 and 7.

The ninth-ranked Irish are scheduled to lose two players off their current team after this season in grad students Dara Mabrey at guard and Lauren Ebo at center, while four starters and three scholarship reserves are all eligible to return.