Hannah Hidalgo has the nation on notice after notable sophomore season

Hannah Hidalgo

Hannah Hidalgo didn’t choose basketball.

Basketball chose Hannah.

She only went to the recreation gym with her dad as a kid for the Gatorade. Basketball wasn’t a real interest until she noticed she was better than most of the boys.

Hannah’s passion for the game now manifests in how she plays — skilled, relentless, determined, and with enthusiasm. It’s such that it stays with her even when she’s not playing.

Conversations with her parents in the kitchen at home can include the next game coming up, matchups, and strategy while watching a women’s basketball game on television.

Basketball does stop for certain traditions in the Hidalgo household. Sunday mornings are custom for gathering for church service. Since the pandemic, this has meant watching church online virtually. Hannah and her family are usually tuned into Pastor Michael Todd at Transformation Church.

“Without God, I would be nothing but without me, God would still be God”, as Hannah said in her interview.

Her sophomore season was one of the most impressive overall in the state. Hannah averaged 20 points per game as her team’s leading scorer. She was named the Olympic Conference Player of the Year and second-team All-State after leading the Eagles to a 13-2 record in a limited season.

Paul VI head coach Lisa Steele, who played her college ball at George Washington, calls it “a blessing” and “a fun experience” to coach Hannah.

“Players like her come once every couple years, or once in a career for some coaches.”

Hannah’s connection to the game is now impossible to miss or avoid.

She describes being on the court as being in a different world, a place where any troubles or tension goes away.

The way she plays shows it. She’s not just aggressive but poised. Her quick blow-by moves help her get into the lane at will to make things happen. Hannah has the ability to see the game ahead of time, which makes for some magical passing moments with either hand.


How does she describe Queen Hannah?

“She’s in the opposing team’s head. Constantly energetic, clapping, talking back to the other team… knocking down threes, knocking down jump shots, dishing the ball, getting and-ones, screaming in other people’s face… stealing the ball, fastbreaks, kicking it out to the shooters, aggressive, cheering on my team when I’m on the bench… bringing that energy.”

It looks like basketball chose well.

The New York Knicks are back! | The Atlantic Files Ep177

New York Knicks
The New York Knicks are back! | The Atlantic Files Ep177

You read that headline correctly, don’t act like you haven’t heard about it either! The New York Knicks are back, baby! Oh, they’re here to stay too!

Currently, the Knicks are the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference and they even are third in the Atlantic Division only behind the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers. Before this season began, we did not think the Knicks would be anywhere close to where they are right now.

The defense is brand new and very good. Coach Thibodeau has the entire culture and energy flipped upside down compared to last season. Guys are standing up and off the bench throughout the whole game cheering their teammates on at all times. Everyone has a tremendous amount of respect for each other and the coaching staff.

On top of that, you have Julius Randle playing like the Most Improved Player of the Year and Immanuel Quickley playing like the Rookie of the Year if only he got some more minutes. At this point of the season, if you don’t have either of these guys on your radar or ladders for the awards, you’re sadly mistaken.

PLUS, RJ Barrett is really playing like a future All-Star and maybe even an All-NBA level.

Throw all of that together and you have a recipe for a very dangerous team to face in the playoffs. We would not be surprised at all if they won a first-round matchup and even pushed their second-round opponent to the brink of elimination. This is a serious worst-to-first type of story, and the state of the NBA is just better when the New York Knicks are better.

Hear the full episode below!

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Arella Guirantes embraces new challenge with LA Sparks


One of the head-scratchers of the 2021 WNBA Draft was Arella Guirantes falling to the second round. The two-time All-American out of Rutgers was a projected lottery pick.

The Los Angeles Sparks selected Guirantes at no. 22 overall when the head coach and general manager Derek Fisher said she was the best player on the board by far.

“To have a lottery talent available at 22 was an opportunity that we could not pass. We’ve already gotten the opportunity to connect with her a little bit and we’re ecstatic to see how this plays out on the court.”

Los Angeles used the no. 7 overall pick to select forward Jasmine Walker out of Alabama.

Their next selection at no. 10 was North Carolina guard Stephanie Watts.

Arella talked with the media on Friday in a live press conference to discuss her being drafted by the Sparks and motivation going forward.

Guirantes is known for her competitive drive and killer instinct. She’s a proud Kobe Bryant fan, and will now have a chance to play for one of his former teammates.

At one point during the season, she sported a green hair look which she said was in tribute to the Kim Possible Disney villain, Shego.

Not unlike her idol, Arella doesn’t have a problem being the bad guy.

Offensively this is a player who can be special because she possesses high-level fundamentals and creativity.

She won’t be shying away from the moment at the next level as she makes her transition to the WNBA.

While she’ll be fighting for her time, she knows what she can bring to the table offensively.

The lineage of Rutgers players in the WNBA is well-known. Arella referenced Sparks member and former Scarlet Knight Erica Wheeler who went undrafted only to eventually become the All-Star Game MVP in 2019.

Betnijah Laney, another Scarlet Knight who was drafted in the second round in 2015, was named the league’s Most Improved Player last year.

Arella embraces the notion of channeling that lineage in her own journey. She says it has been since she arrived at Rutgers. She called it being “CViv Tough”, making mention of the Hall of Fame Rutgers head coach C. Vivian Stringer.

More than anything, Arella Guirantes will be embracing this next challenge in her career the only way she knows how.

And when the time comes those GMs and coaches might be scratching their own heads questioning how they could have possibly passed on her.

Diamond Johnson on transfer to North Carolina State: “Platform”

Diamond Johnson
Rutgers guard Diamond Johnson will transfer to NC State (Photo: Martin Soaries / Basketball Society)

Rutgers freshman guard Diamond Johnson will transfer to North Carolina State, she announced via social media last week.

The first thing she responded to me by text was one word, “Platform.”

Johnson recently entered her name into the transfer portal after having one of the most impressive freshman campaigns in Rutgers history. She averaged 17 points and six rebounds per game, with a 40/50/90 shooting split.

Rutgers had one of the top-ranked recruiting classes this season, headlined by Johnson. They went into the Big Ten Tournament on a nine-game win streak but fell to Iowa and star freshman Caitlin Clark in the quarterfinal round.

Ranked as a 6-seed in the NCAA Tournament, the Scarlet Knights were then upset by 11-seed BYU in the first round.

Johnson finished as the team’s second-leading scorer behind senior Arella Guirantes. The WNBA Draft awaits Guirantes this week as a projected top-10 pick.

This may have confused Rutgers fans after learning of Johnson’s plans to transfer since the program would undoubtedly be hers to lead into the future.

Being the face of the program clearly wasn’t the sole priority for Diamond.

North Carolina State won the ACC this season and was a no. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They finished with a 22-3 overall record and lost to no. 4 seed Indiana in the Sweet 16.

Diamond Johnson can attract attention anywhere she goes. Basketball is the only platform she really needs.

But the women’s basketball platform is surging as we speak. NCAA Tournament ratings and engagement from last month speak to that.

Diamond now gives herself an instant chance at a Final Four appearance and contending for a national championship, both of which I’d expect from the Wolfpack next season.

Mark Armstrong makes verbal commitment to Villanova

Mark Armstrong

Class of 2022 guard Mark Armstrong has verbally committed to Villanova University he announced tonight on Instagram.


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The 6-foot-3 Saint Peter’s Prep guard is one of the smoothest and most polished players out of New Jersey.

Armstrong will join Rutgers Prep alumni Trey Patterson, now with the team since graduating early and heading to campus in January.

Head coach Jay Wright also has New Jersey and Ranney School product Bryan Antoine in the rotation.

The next closest options for Armstrong out of his final choices in terms of proximity were Rutgers and Seton Hall.

According to an Instagram Live with The Front Office after making his announcement, it was the connection he felt with Villanova head coach Jay Wright that set the Wildcats apart from other schools.

Villanova is not a culture known to promote or produce one-and-done products. Mark mentioned wanting to fill in the footsteps of players like Jalen Brunson, Collin Gillespie, and Ryan Arcidiacono.

“I’m here to stay, it’s gonna be a journey with me”, was Mark’s message to Villanova fans on the Instagram Live session.

That comment hints at his willingness to be a four-year product like the aforementioned Villanova standouts.

Villanova finished 18-7 this season and won two NCAA Tournament games before losing to eventual champion Baylor in the Sweet 16.


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Penn State lands verbal commitment from Paulina Paris

Penn State

Paulina Paris recently told us on Protect Our Queens that she was looking for a family program for her college career.

That family will be the Penn State Nittany Lions.


Paulina announced her verbal commitment this week on social media after narrowing down her options to eight schools at the top of the year, which included the likes of UCLA and North Carolina State, which apparently were her other final choices.

Something else Paulina mentioned about her recruitment was that the Zoom conversations weren’t doing it for her. She hinted at the chance to visit some schools physically again before making a decision.

But the Penn State staff ended up sealing the deal for Paulina.

“Even through Zoom I got that feeling that they really wanted me and that they would trust me running their program for four years,” she told me by text.

“Yesterday the coaches got me on a quick Facetime call with some of the girls just to say hi and they all seem so nice.”

The only other Big Ten programs on Paulina’s list were Northwestern and Rutgers, her only in-state choice. In her interview, she stressed wanting to go somewhere she could start right away and play her game.

Penn State seemed to offer that opportunity, and still close enough to her home tri-state area.

Penn State finished with a 9-15 overall record this season and is led by head coach Carolyn Kieger. Their last trip to the NCAA Tournament was in 2014. Their last winning season was in 2016-17 when they finished 22-11.

Paulina has another year of high school basketball left before starting her journey as a Nittany Lion. She averaged over 20 points this season and was named second-team all-state.

Penn State fans will have more time to get familiar and get excited about their dynamic guard coming in 2022.

Diamond Miller predicted her big sophomore season for Maryland

Diamond Miller sophomore
Maryland guard Diamond Miller warms up against Rutgers (Photo: Martin Soaries / Basketball Society)

When we talked to Maryland guard Diamond Miller before the season, she gave a humble smile to express her confidence about her sophomore year.

Diamond set the tone right away, setting a new career-high with 20 points in the season opener against Davidson. She set a new career-high on December 3 when she dropped 28 against Towson.

Diamond ended up doubling all of her season averages across the board, reaching 17 points per game on 50 percent shooting from the field.

She was named Co-MVP of the Big Ten Tournament helping lead Maryland to a conference title and was named All-Big Ten First Team.

Shining on the biggest stage in one of the standout games of a historic NCAA Tournament, Diamond finished with 21 points and seven rebounds in the 64-61 loss to Texas in the Sweet 16.

Basketball Twitter quickly became fond of her during that game.

Diamond told us she expected more for herself this season simply because she knew what to expect.

She felt that Maryland was ready to make a run last year before the season was cut short.

Another super sophomore whose season was cut short this year was South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston. The Gamecocks fell short against Arizona in the Final Four.

Diamond admitted that Boston was one of the toughest players she had to guard during her freshman year, along with Northwestern guard Lindsey Pulliam.

Maryland finished with a 26-3 overall record with an undefeated 10-0 record at home and a 17-1 record in the Big Ten.

They’re projected to be just as dominant next season, many believing them to be a national title favorite.

Miller at the heart of this Terrapins core will keep them elite and formidable for the back half of her college career.

The more she learns what to expect, it seems the more damage she’s going to do.

Scoop B: Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks Preview


New York City is the hottest basketball city in the world right now with both the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks playing exciting basketball.

Going 7-3 in their last ten games, the Nets are currently 34-16 and in second place in the NBA’s Eastern Conference standings. With a trio of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving, the Nets have championship aspirations. 

The seventh place Knicks currently sit in seventh place in the NBA’s Eastern conference standings with a 25-25 record. All Star Julius Randle is having a career year while averaging 23 points, 10.7 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game under head coach Tom Thibodeau. 

Both teams will collide this evening at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY in a clash of the boroughs matchup.

NBA odds are in Brooklyn’s favor against the Knicks in this matchup despite Brooklyn being without Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin (injury maintenance), Landry Shamet (ankle) and Tyler Johnson (knee) for tonight’s game against the Knicks. 

James Harden is not listed on the injury report, clearing the way for him to return.

“We’re not really concerned about their Big 3. We know what type of basketball we’ll be able to come into the game and play,” Knicks guard Reggie Bullock said last week.

“We’ll focus on our team. The game plan that coach draws up. Other than that, that’s all we’re focused on. The Knicks.”

The last matchup between the Nets and Knicks ended in controversy. After trailing big for most of the game the Knicks stormed back and had a chance to send the game into overtime in the final moments of the fourth quarter. 

Randle tried to shoot a game-tying 3-pointer that would have sent the game into overtime, but Irving got his hand on the ball to prevent Randle from getting the shot up.

The correct call should have been a jump ball between Randle and Irving, but referee Scott Foster did not see Irving put his hand on the ball and instead called a travel on the Knicks’ star. “I was either going to foul early but I saw him lining up for a jump shot. I felt like I could get a hand on it,” Kyrie Irving said after the game.

“Scott called a travel, I thought Julius made a good play afterward, putting it [the ball] down because I was going to foul him after that just to get him to the free-throw line but that’s how it went.”

LeBron James and Steph Curry teaming up a possibility?

LeBron James

LeBron James and Stephen Curry were visibly excited to play alongside each other for the NBA All-Star Game.

Fans shared their excitement to see the two stars play together for the first time after having battled one another four straight years in the NBA Finals.


Their chemistry and genuine basketball joy during the game was jumping off the screen.

LeBron James is expected to miss several weeks with his recently suffered right high ankle sprain.

The Los Angeles Lakers star’s running mate, Anthony Davis, has been nursing a calf injury since mid-February. Davis, still not yet 30 years old, has had a more consistent injury history than LeBron who will turn 37 at the end of this year.

LeBron and Davis as a duo were enough to conquer the NBA in the bubble season without having a third star. That notion could be challenged going forward.

Stephen Curry could have signed a max contract extension with the Golden State Warriors last offseason for about $156 million that would have lasted through 2025. He opted not to sign it.

Curry is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in 2022.

The Warriors have hit hard times since the departure of Kevin Durant and the Klay Thompson injury that left them severely short-handed before the bubble season.

Warriors president of basketball operations Bob Myers remains totally optimistic about Curry staying in Golden State:

“I think he’s happy. Obviously, fans always are gonna be worried about Steph Curry,” the two-time NBA Executive of the Year said. “But I feel like he’s in a very good place personally [and] professionally.

“I feel pretty good about him wanting to be around. I don’t personally have any — besides the paranoid fears that everybody has that aren’t really rational — besides once in awhile, ‘Well what if this happened?’ But those aren’t based on fact.

“So I feel good about it and I think he feels good about it.”

LeBron has done some masterful recruiting jobs before and if he’s committed enough to win at least one more ring for the Lakers, he might have to consider one last power move. Especially if health is about to become a real factor, and particularly since the super-team trend doesn’t seem to be dissipating any time soon.

James and Curry don’t have much else to prove individually. Neither has to ring-chase at this point.

But if circumstances on both sides made them curious enough, in this NBA, stranger things have happened.

The Boston Celtics need help | The Atlantic Files Ep176

Boston Celtics

March Madness is in full swing, the second half of the NBA season is here, and the weather is getting warmer for those in the northern hemisphere! Always the best time of the year and we’re here for all of the basketball fun.

This week we need to catch up with some of the big news and the standings in the Atlantic. It has been a while and a lot of moving, so we’re glad we get to catch up with everyone again!

Something very mediocre is brewing in Boston right now. The Boston Celtics are nowhere near as big of a championship threat as they were originally predicted to be. Yes, the season has been crazy with covid and all sorts of schedule changes, but the roster makeup is starting to show holes.

So this begs the question, what does Boston need to really be a true contender this year? Well, we bring THREE main bullet points that the Celtics are going to have to address if they truly want to win a ring during this crazy season.

Then, it’s time to talk about the Toronto Raptors. This season seems more of a lost cause when it comes to winning a championship. They definitely can make the playoffs, but they also could get some valuable assets for some of the pieces they have that won’t necessarily be there long term.

Kyle Lowry, Norman Powell, and Chris Boucher are all names that could be heard on the trade block. Maybe they need to be shopped a little more aggressively and maybe they should be thinking for next season instead of trying to salvage a first or second-round exit this season.

All of this and more on the latest episode below!


4:50 – Three things the Boston Celtics need to be championship contenders

21:10 – What pieces should the Toronto Raptors trade away?

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