Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 26, 2022*

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

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48 NOV. 26, 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED WOMEN'S BASKETBALL BY TYLER HORKA N ov. 12 was a good day for Notre Dame women's basketball head coach Niele Ivey. Scratch that. Nov. 12 was a great day for Notre Dame women's basketball coach Niele Ivey. She took her Fighting Irish home to her native St. Louis for the Citi Sham- rock Classic. Notre Dame vs. California was the first collegiate women's basket- ball game ever televised on NBC. The No. 9 Irish were victorious, 90-79, in a matchup meant to showcase the wom- en's game to a broader national audience. "It was such an incredible experi- ence," Ivey said. "It wasn't just about the game." Just a couple hours after the buzzer sounded, Ivey's day got even better. Five- star forward Cassandre Prosper of Cair- ine Wilson Secondary School in Ottawa, Ontario, committed to the Irish. Prosper is the No. 16 overall prospect in the class of 2023 according to ESPN HoopGurlz's recruiting rankings. She joined No. 20 overall recruit Emma Risch as Ivey's signees in the current cycle. Three days later, Ivey reeled in an- other big fish. No. 5 overall prospect Hannah Hi- dalgo of Haddonfield (N.J.) Paul VI High School signed with Notre Dame Nov. 15. In less than a week, Notre Dame went from having just one surefire signee to three top-20 additions. Ivey has the only program in the country that signed three top-20 players in the early window. "I'm grateful," Ivey said. "I have an incredible staff who has helped build this list and helped bring these kids on campus. It's about the relationships. I'm a relationship-driven coach. "I'm really grateful that I had the op- portunity not to just identify the talent but really build a great relationship with those young ladies." The relationships with Hidalgo and Prosper go back to at least this past sum- mer when Ivey went overseas to Hungary to watch them play at the 2022 FIBA U17 World Cup. Hidalgo helped the USA go 7-0 to win the gold medal. Prosper was the tournament's fifth-leading scorer at 14.0 points per game for team Canada. In the 5-foot-7 Hidalgo, Notre Dame is getting a true, dynamic, game-changing point guard and the heir to current soph- omore Olivia Miles. Hidalgo averaged 26.3 points, 6.2 steals, 6.0 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game as a junior. "Hannah brings swag, competitive- ness and a relentless drive that will in- stantly elevate our program," Ivey said in a statement. "She is multi-dimen- sional, lighting fast and tenacious de- fensively with a scorer's mentality and a high basketball IQ." In the 6-foot-2 Prosper, Notre Dame is getting a player Ivey views as more of an oversized guard but one who has been accustomed to playing in the post for her entire career to this point. Translation: She can play any position from the 2 to the 5 — a Canadian army knife of sorts. "She is an explosive, dynamic guard with an incredible motor and skill set that is unmatched," Ivey said. "Her in- ternational experience, athleticism and scorer's mentality will be an immediate asset to our program." Ivey inked three players who have the makings of Day 1 contributors. With graduate student Dara Mabrey depart- ing at the end of the 2022-23 season, Risch steps in as a much-needed three- point weapon. Hidalgo can either spell Miles when she needs a break or team up with her for one of the most electrifying backcourt duos in the country. Prosper might manifest as a Maddy Westbeld-type, only with even more skill. Westbeld, a junior, won the ACC Freshman of the Year award two seasons ago. Current sophomore guard Sonia Citron won it last year. Current freshman and former Mc- Donald's All-American KK Bransford could come on strong and make it a three-peat for the award. Then the Irish have three five-stars waiting to make a run at it themselves in 2023-24. Life is good for Ivey. From a win in her hometown to the signing of three of the top 20 players in the current class, life is really, really good. "It's always God's timing," Ivey said. "Sometimes you lose out on some kids, but we've identified the right group no matter what their number is on ESPN. I just feel like we've found the right fit. I'm excited. I can't wait to coach them." ✦ Notre Dame Adds Two More Five-Stars To Its 2023 Signing Class Hannah Hidalgo, the No. 5 overall recruit in the class of 2023 according to ESPN HoopGurlz's rankings, signed with Notre Dame Nov. 15. PHOTO COURTESY HANNAH HIDALGO IRISH START SEASON IN EMPHATIC FASHION Head coach Niele Ivey's team followed up a season-opening 40-point win over Northern Illinois with two more double-digit victories. All five starters scored at least 12 points in a 90-79 victory over California in St. Louis Nov. 12. Gradu- ate student guard Dara Mabrey led the way with 16. Junior center Nat Marshall, graduate student center Lauren Ebo and freshman guard KK Bransford combined for 20 bench points. Notre Dame beat Northwestern 92-58 Nov. 16 in Evanston, Ill. Sophomore guard Sonia Citron led the way with 24 points. Sophomore point guard Olivia Miles had 21 despite a third-quarter ejection as a result of 2 technical fouls. — Tyler Horka

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