A sales pitch was not necessary.
Giana Hoddinott knew what Mount St. Mary’s University basketball was all about, having attended games as a youth. She knew the school was an ideal fit academically, socially and even geographically, being located just 45 minutes from her home.
What she didn’t know was if the Mount was going to extend a scholarship offer.
But Mount head coach Antoine White did just that, the recruiting process was unofficially over for the Delone Catholic star.
“As soon as he said the words I wanted to commit,” Hoddinott said. “I knew I was going to take it; I didn’t need to visit or do anything else.
Receiving – and accepting – the NCAA Division I offer provided a mixture of joy and relief for the rising senior who had drawn significant interest from Division II schools but was awaiting to fulfill her DI dreams.
“It’s super exciting, but a relief that I finally got a Division I offer,” she said. “It’s a weight lifted off my shoulders.
“It’s a smaller school, which is what I’m used to, and a really good fit. When I walked around campus it felt right and I could see myself there for the next four years.”
Delone head coach Gerry Eckenrode also felt that blend of happiness and relief when Hoddinott’s talents were recognized by a program at the highest level. Eckenrode said he burned up the phone lines reaching out to schools on Hoddinott’s behalf. Division II powerhouse Indiana University of Pennsylvania was in from the start, but Eckenrode saw elite abilities in his team leader.
“Giana’s work ethic is unmatched,” he said. “She’s in the weight room, does individual workouts with trainers and works on her skill set. She can drive, shoot a pull-up jump shot and shoot the 3. And she’s underrated as a defensive player. When she was younger we relied on her for defense but I needed her offense as time went on.
“Whatever she gets is well-deserved. I just couldn’t believe she didn’t generate more (Division I) interest.”
Hoddinott led a loaded Delone Catholic squad to a 16-1 regular season record before the Squirettes rolled to a District 3 Class 4A championship with a 48-33 thrashing of Lancaster Catholic. Delone would bow out in the state semifinals, two years after capturing a PIAA title.
Hoddinott averaged 16.3 points per game and shot 82 percent from the free throw line. She displayed the ability to bury the triple just as easily as working into the paint for a tough bucket.
She has netted 867 career points through three seasons, leading Eckenrode to say she has a place alongside former Delone greats that came before her.
“She reminds me of Maddie Comly,” he said, referring to the former Squirette who became a 1,000-point scorer at Fairleigh Dickinson University. “Maddie had the same problem at the same time but finally the offers came through.”
Hoddinott has developed into the go-to option for a Delone program stocked with talent. Abby Jacoby and Makenna Mummert, teammates both at Delone and for the Mid-Penn Motion travel team, recently commited to Lock Haven and Elizabethtown, respectively. With talent surrounding her, Hoddinott hasn’t felt the need to carry an extra load on her shoulders.
In fact, her unselfishness is her best quality as a player, according to Eckenrode.
“She’s a very good scorer but also a very good team player,” he said. “She sets her teammates up and is very unselfish.”
Hoddinott believes hitting the 3-pointer — which she did 23 times last season — may be her best skill on the floor but believes a team-first mentality is her to attribute.
“I can’t just be a shooter, I have to be more than that, but the best part is being a team-oriented player,” she said. “I’ve never had to do it all myself, I can always rely on another girl. I’ve been playing with this team since the third grade and I know they have my back and I have theirs.”
Mount St. Mary’s is coming off a 17-7 season in which it claimed the NEC championship and advanced to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1995. Hoddinott, who is 5-foot-9, said she’s likely to a number of positions as the Mountaineers don’t use a traditional point guard.
With that in mind, she has been working to improve a few things in her game that will be needed at the next level.
“I’m used to being able to drive and create a foul, but I’m not the tallest and it’s not going to be that easy at the college level,” she said. “I’ve been stopping and pulling up a lot more and getting my 3-pointer more consistent. I also want to have balance in the lane when I receive contact.”
With a scholarship in hand, Hoddinott says she can now turn her full attention toward delivering another state title to Delone.
“I’m relieved it’s over, it’s a lot of stress lifted off of me worrying about calls, texts and Zoom meetings,” she said. “It was nice in the beginning to build relationships but now it’s over and I can focus on my senior season, winning another district championship and hopefully another state championsip.”