July 26, 2023
How USA’s Hannah Hidalgo emerged at the Under-19 World Cup
Guard is incoming freshman at Notre Dame
MADRID, Spain – It might have been the single biggest play in FIBA Under-19 World Cup history. With her team up two and a packed house roaring for the Spanish hosts, Hannah Hidalgo swiped Alicia Florez Getino with 11 seconds left. The steal permitted Team USA to emerge with a third-consecutive gold medal, 69-66, and 10th overall.
In the aftermath, the 5’6 guard from Haddonfield, New Jersey, was selected as one of the competition’s All-Star Five. Hidalgo averaged 10.7 points per game, which were second behind Joyce Edwards’ 12.6 on the super-balanced USA roster.
“I am truly blessed to be in this position,” said Hidalgo, who also won the Under-17 World Cup last year. “God had put me into this position, so I give him glory. It’s truly a blessing to be a two-time gold medalist. The fans really love that team (Spain), so it was great. It definitely prepares me for what’s to come in college in those types of hostile environments. When that crowd came in, I got my team together and said, ‘We have two minutes left; let’s keep on pushing.’ It’s truly an honor to be here; of all the teams that are here, it’s a blessing to be one of the five best.”
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Incoming freshman at South Bend
This fall, Hidalgo will begin playing for Niele Ivey at Notre Dame. She will join Sonia Citron, who garnered the same Under-19 World Cup All-Star Five award two years ago in Debrecen, Hungary. The Irish roster also boasts Cassandre Prosper, who led Canada in Madrid with 16.2 points per game. Although Canada won the bronze medal, it did not meet the U.S. in the tournament. Notre Dame opens the season on Nov. 6 against South Carolina in Paris.
“I felt like I became smarter,” Hidalgo said of her growth during the Under-19 World Cup. “Going into this tournament, I made some silly mistakes, defensively and offensively. Getting a feel for it, I was able to read things differently, try to note things, not getting all of the way into the paint, being able to dump down when I see a defender come. My knowledge of playing overseas, it’s a little bit different, there is a lot of cutting, a lot of moving, and I just got smarter in that area. FIBA is a great place to be. Playing for the USA, it’s truly an honor to be here representing my country.”
Hidalgo played for her father at Paul VI High School in New Jersey. She was named Co-MVP of the McDonald’s All-American Game and tied the event’s record with eight steals. Her 5.4 assists at the Under-19 World Cup were second behind Elena Buenavida of Spain. Plus, her 22 steals were fourth in the tournament.
“Hannah is an amazing player,” said Under-19 coach Joni Taylor. “She comes in and just changes the game. She is what we call a two-way player. She plays on both sides of the ball and takes pride in being a really good defender. She takes pride in getting out in transition and knowing when to score for herself and when to distribute to her teammates. She’s young, but she has been in this position before, this is not her first time representing USA Basketball. Still, she was one of the youngest players on this team, so to see her step up and accept her role, I am super excited for her. She is going to be fun to watch at Notre Dame.”
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Hidalgo makes history with big games
How dominant was Hidalgo at the Under-19 World Cup? Following the tournament, FIBA released lists of the top individual games in points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, and shooting efficiency in Under-19 World Cup history. Hidalgo’s is the only USA Basketball name on any of the lists. Her 13 assists against the Czech Republic were fourth-most all-time behind the 16 that China’s Zheng Meiling dished in 2007. The eight steals that Hidalgo swiped against Argentina are second only to the 10 that Mali’s Maimouna Haidara recorded against Chinese Taipei this year. Think about all of the great players that the U.S. has sent to the Under-19 World Cup over the years, and it emphasizes how special Hidalgo is and how much more there is to come.
Written by Scott Mammoser
Scott Mammoser started out covering the Niagara University women's basketball team in 2002. He went on to cover FIBA World Cups in Turkey and Spain, Under-19 World Cups in Thailand and Spain, the Asia Cup in China, as well as major international events for World Athletics and the International Skating Union. He has been to six Olympics and traveled to more than 80 countries.