Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 10, 2022*

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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48 SEPT. 10, 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED WOMEN'S BASKETBALL BY TYLER HORKA T he Notre Dame women's bas- ketball season is just about two months away. Soon it'll be time to put all at- tention on sophomore point guard Oliva Miles and company. But in the meantime, don't forget about the Irish recruiting targets that could have the chance to play with Miles before she finishes her college ca- reer in three years if they choose to sign with Notre Dame. The Irish only have one player cur- rently committed in the class of 2023 — four-star guard Emma Risch of Palm Bay (Fla.) Magnet High School. Risch averaged 20.5 points, 6.9 re- bounds, 4.0 assists and 3.1 steals per game as a first- team All-State honoree. ESPN's HoopGurlz ranks her as the No. 64 player in the senior class. The Irish have zero class of 2024 commits, which isn't out of the ordi- nary. What is unusual is only signing one player at the conclusion of a class. That's what happened in the class of 2022 when McDonald's All-American KK Bransford was the only freshman addition to the 2022-23 roster. Head coach Niele Ivey has a prom- ising product to sell. Notre Dame just went to the Sweet 16 in March and was painfully close to reaching the Elite Eight. Four of five starters from the team that made a March Madness run are back. The Irish can only improve upon the recent postseason success if they sign some of the nation's best play- ers out of high school, though. Here are three of those to pay close attention to. Hannah Hidalgo Class: 2023 ESPN HoopGurlz Rankings: No. 1 point guard and No. 5 overall High School: Haddonfield (N.J.) Paul VI High School Statistics: 21.5 points, 5.4 steals, 4.7 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game, and a 61-9 team record Choosing Between: Notre Dame, Stanford, Duke, UCF, Michigan and Ohio State BGI Says: Notre Dame has had success recruiting New Jersey. Miles is from there, and so is super senior guard Dara Mabrey. Oregon transfer Kylee Watson grew up in the Garden State, too. Hidalgo is just 5-foot-7, but plays bigger than her height. She recently won a gold medal with USA Basketball at the 2022 FIBA Women's U-17 World Cup. She averaged 7.7 points, 2.9 assists, 2.6 steals and 2.1 rebounds per game on the stacked Ameri- can roster that won it all in Debrecen, Hungary. Ivey has made a living on recruiting elite guards who have a complete game. Look at Miles and fel- low rising sophomore Sonia Citron, and add Brans- ford and Risch to the conversation. Hidalgo could be the next great Irish guard in a long line of them. Olivia Olson Class: 2024 ESPN HoopGurlz Rankings: No. 2 point guard and No. 3 overall High School: St. Louis Park (Minn.) Benilde- St. Margaret's High School Statistics: 22.8 points and 10.0 rebounds per game as a sophomore in 2021-22 Choosing Between: Notre Dame, Michigan, Duke, Oregon, Nebraska, Connecticut, Vander- bilt, Stanford, Minnesota and Tennessee BGI Says: The 6-0 Olson is everything a coach wants in a point guard in the modern game. She can shoot, she can defend and she can run the floor. She's even a highly touted goalkeeper on the soccer team at Benilde- St. Margaret's. She can simply do it all. Notre Dame is going to have to fend off some of the biggest names in the sport to land a commitment from her. It's going to be a heavyweight recruiting battle. UConn, Stan- ford and Tennessee can all sell things other places can't. Of course, Ivey can sell champi- onships and success after graduation, too. An- other successful season wouldn't hurt either. Olson started all six games for Team USA at the 2021 FIBA Americas U-16 Champi- onship in Leon, Mexico. She recorded 10.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. International experience has been something that translates to a cultural fit at Notre Dame. Olson and Hidalgo both have it. Blanca Thomas Class: 2024 ESPN HoopGurlz Ranking: No. 3 forward/ post playe r and No. 10 overall High School: Charlotte (N.C.) Catholic High School Statistics: 14.2 points, 10.8 re- bounds and 2.8 blocks per game as a sophomore Choosing Between: Notre Dame, North Carolina, NC State, Virginia Tech, Michigan, Tennessee, Louisville, Stanford, South Carolina and Duke BGI Says: Here's another recruit Notre Dame is going to have to scratch and claw against some of the biggest names in the sport for, including defending national champion South Carolina. The 6-foot-5 Thomas is a hot commodity. Thomas took her team at Charlotte Catholic to the state semifinals in her sophomore season by leading the Cougars in points, rebounds and blocks per game. She scored 29 points in the quarterfinals of the state tournament. The consensus is Thomas will be a dominant post player by the time she's ready for college ball. Notre Dame has not had much success recruiting her position out of high school lately. That could change in a major way if Thomas were to commit to Ivey and the Irish. It's not going to be easy. Thomas will only con- tinue to draw the attention of her top schools if she keeps trending upward. The best thing Notre Dame could do is have success with Watson and Texas transfer Lauren Ebo to show Thomas that post players can shine in South Bend, just like Stan- ford transfer Maya Dodson did this past season. ✦ Three Notre Dame Recruiting Targets To Keep An Eye On Notre Dame head coach Niele Ivey needs to land top players in the recruiting classes of 2023 and 2024 to keep momentum going from a successful 2021-22 season. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS

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