Welcome to The Next: A basketball newsroom brought to you by The IX. 24/7/365 women’s basketball coverage, written, edited, and photographed by our young, diverse staff, dedicated to breaking news, analysis, historical deep dives, and projections about the game we love.
Subscribe to make sure this vital work, creating a pipeline of young, diverse media professionals to write, edit and photograph the great game, continues, and grows. Paid subscriptions include some exclusive content, but the reason for subscriptions is a simple one: making sure our writers and editors creating 24/7/365 women’s basketball coverage get paid to do it.
A player with massive amounts of talent and potential has entered the transfer portal, and she has the ability to dramatically improve whatever program she goes to next.
Kamilla Cardoso — who won shares of the ACC’s Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year awards this past season — is leaving Syracuse. Cardoso informed The Next of her intent to leave Syracuse this week and a separate source close to the situation confirmed she was in the portal. Cardoso declined to elaborate on why she was leaving Syracuse.
Cardoso immediately becomes one of — if not the — best players available in the transfer market.
A 6’7 product of Brazil, Cardoso is the 12th player to transfer away from Syracuse this offseason. Ranked as the fifth-best prospect by ESPN in 2020, she has all four years of eligibility remaining due to the NCAA’s COVID-era ruling that applied to all athletes this past season.
Quickly, Cardoso established herself as one of the ACC’s top post players and one of the best freshmen in the country. In her collegiate debut, she had 14 points and seven rebounds in just 13 minutes against Stony Brook. She would finish her rookie season with per-game averages of 13.6 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.5 blocks while shooting 56.1% from the floor.
She led the ACC in field goal percentage and blocks, and led all of the conference’s freshmen in rebounding. According to HerHoopStats, Cardoso also had the second-best PER in the conference, a 30.4 mark.
Cardoso turned into a weapon for Syracuse on both ends of the floor and soon became a focal point for teams trying to beat the Orange. After topping Syracuse in the ACC tournament semifinals, Louisville head coach Jeff Walz said: “Our goal for Kamilla was, like I said, trying to get her to catch the ball further out in the paint and then to really give emphasis, every time a shot was taken, to put a body on her and box her out. Overall we forced her into 3 of 9 shooting. We fouled her a little bit too much, and I've got to give her credit, she's a really, really good free-throw shooter.”
She also regularly earned praise from her teammates. Emily Engstler said of her after an ACC tournament quarterfinal win over Florida State: “I think Kamilla is a wonderful basketball player and she's very young, and she has a lot to learn… We put her at a higher standard, because she's a really good basketball player. She took those (bad) days and she put them behind her. Not a lot of 18-year-old basketball players who are freshmen in the ACC can do that. I'm really proud of her.”
Cardoso follows a large group of players leaving Syracuse this offseason after the program finished the year with a 15-9 record and a second-round NCAA tournament exit under the direction of Quentin Hillsman, who just wrapped up his 15th season on the job.
Some Syracuse players have already found new homes in women’s college basketball. Engstler — the ACC Sixth Player of the Year — landed at Louisville, Digna Strautmane joined Georgia Tech, Kiara Lewis is at Clemson, Amaya Finklea-Guity committed to Duke, Old Dominion grabbed Taleah Washington, Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi went to Miami, and Faith Blackstone found a spot at North Carolina A&T. Maud Huijbens, Khamya McNeal, Kiara Fisher and Lauren Fitzmaurice are also in the portal.
Earlier this week, Hillsman held media availability via Zoom and fielded questions from reporters about the players leaving his program. Currently, Priscilla Williams is the lone starter remaining from last season.
“We’re in a good place and we’re not in a panic mode,” Hillsman said, according to Syracuse.com. “What’s happening right now is this portal across the country is becoming this thing where if you have nobody in the portal, then your program’s fantastic. If you got people in the portal, then you’re in trouble. We’re not in that state.”
Hillsman is bringing in a top 15 recruiting class this offseason and a few of his own transfers, including Shalexxus Aaron (USC), Naje Murray (Texas Tech), Eboni Walker (Arizona State) and Jayla Thornton (Howard).
Still, with the nucleus of what looked like the future of his program now gone, Hillsman is essentially starting from scratch next season.