Delone Catholic girls' basketball standout realizes dream, commits to NCAA D-I program

  • Delone Catholic High girls' basketball standout Giana Hoddinott has made her college decision.
  • Hoddinott has made a verbal commitment to Mount St. Mary's in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
  • The Mount is coming off a 17-7 season when it won the Northeast Conference crown.
Delone Catholic's Giana Hoddinott, center, has verbally committed to play NCAA Division I women's basketball for Mount St. Mary's in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

Being a top girls’ basketball player in the Class of 2022 has been a much different recruiting experience than it was for those in the pre-COVID-19 era.

With the pandemic taking away in-person recruiting for more than a year, the chances for college coaches to see players in person was limited.

Many referred to it as the “dead period” of recruitment.

Then there were a pair of NCAA changes that resulted in fewer opportunities for players in the 2022 class -- granting college seniors an additional year of eligibility and more relaxed transfer portal rules.

Despite all of the obstacles thrown her way, Delone Catholic standout Giana Hoddinott did not give up hope. A two-time all-state honoree, Hoddinott worked hard to get herself noticed over the summer.

Just when it seemed like Hoddinott was destined to accept a scholarship offer from one of the top NCAA Division II programs, the Squirette star got the call she always dream of receiving — an offer from an NCAA D-I program. It came from nearby Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

It didn’t take the Delone rising senior long to make a decision. Just more than a week after getting the offer, Hoddinott gave the Mountaineers a verbal commitment to join their Class of 2026.

“I was about to commit to IUP (Indiana University of Pennsylvania) because they’re one of the top college programs in the PSAC (Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference),” Hoddinott said. “They compete for national championships and I love the coach, but then the Mount called me.”

Mount apologizes for not recruiting her earlier: The Delone standout also appreciated the Mount’s coaches for explaining their previous lack of serious recruitment in a player that Squirette head coach Gerry Eckenrode called one of the best he’s ever coached.

“They apologized up front,” she said. “They told me that they kind of looked right over me. They watched me on film and told me that the film just doesn’t do me justice. And thank God that we played in the Best of Maryland Tournament (in late July), because that is how the Mount saw me and they came out with an offer.”

Delone Catholic girls earn exposure, 3 wins vs. big-time foes at prestigious tournament

Just a 45-minute drive from Hoddinott’s home, the Mount is a school that she had visited dozens of times over her life. That familiarity made the standard official visit unnecessary for Hoddinott.

“I’ve been watching the Mount since I was little,” she said. “And to get that offer from them was just perfect. Once those words came out of (Mount St. Mary’s head coach Antoine White’s) mouth, I didn’t even have to visit the campus or talk to anyone. I knew that’s where I wanted to go.”

Hoddinott is joining a program that finished 17-7 overall last season, won the Northeast Conference title and earned an NCAA Division I Tournament berth.

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Hoddinott also joins teammates Abby Jacoby (Lock Haven) and Makenna Mummert (Elizabethtown) as Squirettes who have made their decisions to play at the next level.

Looking ahead: Getting the recruitment process over before the season was important to Hoddinott. She hopes to lead Delone to a PIAA Class 4-A state title in her senior year. Delone lost in the state semifinals in 2021 after winning the state 3-A crown in 2019. The Squirettes return nearly all the key players from last season's team.

To say that she and her peers are confident is a bit of an understatement. Getting the chance to play reigning 4-A champ Archbishop Wood in the Best of Maryland Tournament – a contest in which Delone cruised to an impressive double-digit victory — only served as reinforcement that Hoddinott and her Squirettes have to be considered strong contenders this winter.

“We played (Archbishop Wood) and we beat them, which was huge,” Hoddinott said. “And we also played Pope Paul VI, which is a team that was on ESPN and they actually won the whole (Best of Maryland) tournament and we only lost by six, but we were up by 10 at one point.”

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