InsideNDSports - Niele Ivey going the distance when it comes to Notre Dame WBB recruiting
{{ timeAgo('2022-06-08 16:08:10 -0500') }} basketball Edit

Niele Ivey going the distance when it comes to Notre Dame WBB recruiting

The Notre Dame coaching staff has its eyes on elite point guard prospect Hannah Hidalgo from New Jersey.
The Notre Dame coaching staff has its eyes on elite point guard prospect Hannah Hidalgo from New Jersey. (Chris LaChall, USA TODAY Sports Network)

It’s a long way to go to see and be seen, but Notre Dame women’s basketball coach Niele Ivey will head to Debrecen, Hungary, next month to do just that in an effort to gain an edge on the recruiting trail.

Two 2023 prospects rated in the top five nationally by ESPNw, whom the Irish are pursuing, and a coveted center in the 2024 class with interest in ND will all be playing for Team USA, July 9-17, in the FIBA Women's U17 Basketball World Cup.

“I think Notre Dame has as good of a shot as anybody among the elite programs in the country to get any one of those three,” said Dan Olson, owner and director of Collegiate Girls Basketball Report.



The Irish so far have one verbal commitment in the 2023 cycle, that from Emma Risch, a big guard (6-1) with an impressive shooting range from Palm Bay Magnet High School in Melbourne, Fla.

Notre Dame would like to sign three to four total in the early signing period this November.

The two 2023 priority targets who are heading to Hungary are shooting guard Jaydn Donovan and point guard Hannah Hidalgo, Nos. 3 and 5, respectively, regardless of position in the ESPNw rankings. The 2024 post prospect is Kennedy Ume, the No. 27-rated player in that cycle,

A priority prospect for Notre Dame not headed to Hungary in the 2023 class is Cassandre Prosper, a 6-2 forward from Quebec, Canada, who plays her high school ball at Cairine Wilson Secondary School near Ottawa, Ontario. She’s the top-ranked prospect in Canada and No. 11 in North America per ESPNw.

The Notre Dame coaching staff prioritized all three, plus Ume in the 2024 class, during a new May evaluation weekend, where coaches could go on the road and visit the high schools of prospects.

Here’s Olson’s breakdown of the four players the Irish coaching staff saw:

• Jaydn Donovan, 6-0 shooting guard, Washington, D.C., Sidwell Friends School:

“Donovan’s weak point really is her perimeter game. She can make shots on the perimeter, but it’s just not a high level of consistency. But the thing with her is she’s just such a mismatch. She’s so ultra-athletic and aggressive on the glass and the way in which she attacks the basket, and she’s physical around that.

“Even though she’s 6 feet tall, she plays like she’s way taller than that and just pounds you inside the lane. Offensive rebounding may be her knack, because she’s got a way of getting the ball off the glass and making you pay.

“Inside of 10 feet, there are not too many players better than Jaydn Donovan.”

• Hannah Hidalgo, 5-6 point guard, Haddonfield (N.J.) Paul VI High School:

“Hidalgo has been one of these girls who has really made a rapid move upward in her game. Where I really saw her make a leap was during the pandemic (2020).

“I watched Hannah play in August during that time frame, when everybody was locked up and, man, she really started to figure it out. She’s continued to make that upward movement, and it’s no surprise to me where she is today as far as being on that national team and being an upper-echelon player.

“She’s like (current Irish point guard) Olivia Miles in that she’s very difficult to contain, and she can make shots, just like MIles. She's got that savviness about her and that unselfishness toward her game, just like Olivia Miles, that is like a pass-first mentality.

“Hidalgo can just flat out break you down, get in the lane and score. Not as big as Miles. She’s not really a big guard by any means. But she’s fearless when she gets in that lane and she’ll take the contact. She’s got such a smooth way about how she finishes the play.”

• Cassandre Prosper, 6-2 forward, Orleans (Ontario) Cairine Wilson Secondary School:

“Wow — that’s my thoughts on Cassandre. There’s a girl up there in Canada in the 2024 class who I’m sure that Notre Dame is also on, named Toby Fournier (No. 15 ESPNw). She’s 6-3 and can dunk. She’s like a hybrid-4 player. She’s the best 2024 I’ve seen, but Prosper has the body of a professional athlete.

“She’s got a small forward game. She can shoot the 3. She can beat you off the dribble into the lane. She can jump over you. She’s a special player.

“If she were in the United States, I don’t think she’d be out of the top 5 in that class. She’s probably better than Donovan. She’s not as aggressive in going to the basket or on the glass, but she’s still pretty impressive. She may be 6-2, 6-3, but she plays like she’s 6-4, 6-5."

• Kennedy Ume, 6-3 center, Owings Mills (Md.) McDonogh School:

“Ume has been on my radar for a long time. Being on the national team and all that is great, but Dad has got one thing in mind. It's called education. That helps bring Notre Dame to the forefront.

“She’s a center, and there’s not a whole lot of good centers out there. She’s one who is, and Kennedy has continued to evolve her game.”

Notre Dame incoming freshman KK Bransford throws a pass during the McDonald's All-American Girls basketball game,, March 29, 2022, in Chicago.
Notre Dame incoming freshman KK Bransford throws a pass during the McDonald's All-American Girls basketball game,, March 29, 2022, in Chicago. (Charles Rex Arbogast, Associated Press)

Silver lining for Bransford  

The upside for Notre Dame incoming freshman KK Bransford in not making the USA U18 national team that will compete in the 2022 FIBA U18 Americas Championship this month is that she won’t have to sweat over being admitted to ND for summer school.

That team begins play Monday in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the same day Notre Dame’s six-week summer term starts. And they will play through June 19, meaning the earliest Branford would have been able to start classes was June 21.

Allowing her to start that late academically would not have been automatic for the two-time Miss Ohio Basketball (or anybody else).

Instead, Bransford will be able to get started academically and start meshing with her Notre Dame teammates as well next week. Three other newcomers will join her — all transfers. Center Lauren Ebo (Texas) has one season of eligibility with the Irish.

Guard Jenna Brown (Stanford) has two, and forward Kylee Watson (Oregon) has three.

The 5-11 Bransford was one of 30 players who tried out for Team USA in Colorado Springs, Colo., with the 12 players who made the team being named last Friday.

Projected Notre Dame 2022-23 Roster
Player Position Height Class

Jenna Brown




Lauren Ebo




Dara Mabrey




Natalija Marshall




Kylee Watson




Maddy Westbeld




Sonia Citron




Olivia Miles




KK Bransford




The players listed above are expected to be on scholarship for Notre Dame women's basketball in the 2022-23 season.


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