Skip to content
Kamilla Cardoso

Kamilla Cardoso, Hannah Hidalgo lead Latinas in NCAA Tournament

Almost 24 Latinas will compete in Women's Tourney

South Carolina’s senior center Kamilla Cardoso has been a nightmare for the opposition, and so has Notre Dame freshman sensation Hannah Hidalgo. Although one is a 6-foot-8 center and the other is only 5-foot-6, they are threats to score whenever they possess the ball and brick walls on defense.

Cardoso and Hidalgo are the biggest stars in what is likely the largest and deepest pool of Latinas ever in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. With almost 24 Latinas in this year’s NCAA Tournament field and several starring for Top 4 seeds and above, there’s a good chance you’ll see a few Latinas playing in the Women’s Final Four in Cleveland.

As we do annually, Our Esquina is highlighting all the Latinas in the NCAA Women’s Tournament. Let’s start with the biggest of them all starring for No. 1 overall seed South Carolina: Kamilla Cardoso.

Perfection in play for Kamilla Cardoso

Kamilla Cardoso, a native of Montes Claros, Brazil, aims to achieve the perfect season. The 32-0 Gamecocks hope to become the 10th team to win the national championship with an undefeated record.

Cardoso was the 2024 SEC Defensive Player of the Year. She has won everywhere she’s gone. The 6-foot-7 star’s accolades include a gold medal in the FIBA AmeriCup, 2023 Honorable Mention All-America, and SEC 6th Woman of the Year.

Cardoso made her first career three-pointer at the buzzer to secure South Carolina’s win over Tennessee in the SEC Tournament semifinal.


Hannah Hidalgo, Celeste Taylor, Kamilla Cardoso shine defensively

Kamilla Cardoso not defined by shoving incident

Jackson Chourio leads Top 5 Latino Breakout Stars for 2024

Hannah Hidalgo and Celeste Taylor join Cardoso as semifinalists for the 2024 Naismith Women’s Defensive Player of the Year Award. Notre Dame anticipates an Elite Eight match with South Carolina. The Fighting Irish hope to meet and then beat South Carolina with their sharpshooter Hidalgo. 

Hidalgo, who was Our Esquina’s 2023 Latina Athlete of the Year, is the third-best scorer in the nation. She is averaging 23.3 points per game. Only Iowa’s Catlin Clark (31.9) and USC’s Juju Watkins (27.3) in points per game average more points.

Hidalgo stars on both sides of the court

She set a record with 12 ACC Rookie of the Week selections. Hidalgo was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year and ACC Rookie of the Year. She then earned the ACC Tournament MVP award. 

“She’s very humble,” Notre Dame head coach Niele Ivey said about Hidalgo. “She loves this game so she just wants to compete, so everything that’s coming her way is because of what she’s been able to accomplish and do.”

Hannah Hidalgo
KNOXVILLE, TN – November 29, 2023 – wb during the game between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Tennessee Lady Volunteers at Thompson-Boling Arena at Food City Center in Knoxville, TN. Photo By Ian Cox/Tennessee Athletics

Celeste Taylor highlighted last year’s top Latinas in March Madness while starring at Duke. She transferred to Ohio State as a graduate student and continued her stellar play. The Valley Stream, N.Y., native averaged 10.2 points per game and led her team with 28 blocks. She was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year after earning that honor in the ACC last season.

Half of the top seeds have Latina stars. Big 12 champion Texas has Shaylee Gonzalez, who averaged 9.4 points for the No. 1 seeded Longhorns. Down in Waco, Texas, Brazilian teammates Lety Vasconcelos and Catarina Ferreira hope to help Baylor advance through March Madness. 

Latinas on the defending national champs

Freshmen Aalyah Del Rosario and Angelica Velez hope to help LSU win consecutive titles. Velez, a  guard, will most likely add support off the bench. Aalyah Del Rosario averaged 5.2 points. 

UCLA’s Gabriela Jaquez, the younger sister of Miami Heat rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr., averaged 9.7 points per game. The Bruins are a definite threat to reach the Final Four, but they’re in a difficult backet with defending champion LSU and No. 1 seed Iowa.

Jaime Jáquez Jr.
The Jáquez family from left, Marcos, Jaime Sr., Gabriela, mom Angela and Jaime Jr. Photo courtesy of Jaime Sr.

Esmery Martinez, a native of the Dominican Republic, is Arizona’s second leading scorer. She averaged 11.1 points per game. Colombian Susana Yepes plays for Oregon State. 

Florida Gulf Coast University has a trio of Latinas. Ashley Baez averaged 4.1 points, Maca Retamales averaged 3.3 points, and Alyssa Jimenez averaged 1.8 points per game. Sisters Haley and Hunter Hernandez suit up for UC Irvine. Haley averaged 0.3 points per game. 

Ashley Carrillo and Sonia Sato intend to secure the 16th seed against Sacred Heart in the First Four. Carrillo is averaging 4.8 points per game. Sato averages 1.9 points per game. Eastern Washington’s Jamie Loera is Eagles second-leading scorer. The Moses Lake, Wash., native is averaging 13.2 points per game. 

Mariana Valenzuela, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the summer, represents Florida State. Izabel Varajao has averaged 6.3 points per game for Syracuse. Tar Heel Alexandra Zelaya averaged 2.2 points per game. 

UNLV’s Alyssa Durazo-Frescas has averaged 7.9 points per game. Emily Montes represents Columbia University. 

Stay in the Loop

Get the Our Esquina Email Newsletter

By submitting your email, you are agreeing to receive additional communications and exclusive content from Our Esquina. You can unsubscribe at any time.