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Maddy Westbeld to return to Notre Dame women’s basketball for fifth season

IMG_9992by:Tyler Horka04/15/24

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Notre Dame will explore external roster moves just like every other program in the country this offseason. The name of the game in this era is improving rosters via the NCAA transfer portal.

The portal is a foreign place to longtime Fighting Irish forward Maddy Westbeld. So is professional basketball, for now.

Westbeld announced Monday she’s returning to Notre Dame for a fifth season. She did so in Michael Jordan-like fashion, only needing two words to signal the news. Westbeld made these two her own, though — “Not Done” — accompanied by a shamrock emoji, of course.

Westbeld’s decision to utilize the COVID-19 waiver granted to every student-athlete who played in the 2020-21 season is a massive move for Notre Dame without having to look outside the confines of the program. The Irish would once again be short on front-court depth if Westbeld decided to call it quits. Instead, they’re retaining a four-year starter to join forces with five-star center signee Kate Koval.

Notre Dame’s projected starting lineup in 2024-25? Guards Hannah Hidalgo, Olivia Miles and Sonia Citron plus Westbeld and Koval. That’s four McDonald’s All-Americans minus Miles, who would have been one if she did not enroll early at Notre Dame in 2021.

Hidalgo paced Notre Dame in points, assists and steals per game with 22.6, 5.5 and 4.6, respectively, last season. The points and steals figures are new Irish single-season records. Citron slotted in second in scoring and assists at 17.3 points and 2.7 helpers per game. Westbeld averaged 14.4 points per game and a team- and career-best 8.7 rebounds per game.

Then there’s Miles, the program’s all-time leader in triple-doubles and an Associated Press Second Team All-American for averaging 14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game in 2022-23. She did not play in 2023-24 while rehabbing a surgically repaired knee. Koval, meanwhile, is the No. 5 recruit in her class according to ESPN. She’s got all the two-way tools coaches look for in a dominant post player.

Westbeld has quite a few of them herself. She’s not as immovable as Koval in the paint, but she can certainly hold her own and is much better when complemented by someone who has things locked down in that area. That allows her to float to the top of the key for lethal midrange jumpers on offense and sneak into passing lanes with her deceptive athleticism on defense.

Retaining Westbeld already meant everything to the Irish. It means even more knowing two important role players, KK Bransford and Nat Marshall, have decided to explore new opportunities in the portal. The bottom line is Notre Dame is a much better basketball team with Westbeld’s choice to spend one final season with the Fighting Irish.

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