Hanna Hall isn’t your average 18-year-old basketball player.
Like most freshmen, the Hamilton, Ontario, native had never played college basketball before, but unlike most of her peers, she has competed on the international stage. A member of both the U17 and the U19 Canadian Women’s National teams for the past two summers, Hall has played against some of the best young basketball talent in the world.
“A lot of those girls had already started playing pro, because in Europe, that’s what they do,” says Hall. “It was good to have that competition before I got here.” Hall helped Canada’s U19 team place third—their highest finish ever—in the FIBA World Cup over the summer, scoring 10 points in the bronze medal game against Japan.
Nothing in basketball has come easy for the 5-foot-4-inch point guard, who gave up soccer in high school to focus on hoops. “Because I’m a small guard, it’s always been a challenge to play basketball, and that’s what I liked about it,” she says.
Before being tapped to play for Canada, Hall was making a name for herself at St. Mary Catholic Secondary School in Hamilton. She led her team to two straight provincial championships with speed, agility, crisp passing and creative scoring ability.
Given her small size—there are only a handful of players in the MAC her height or shorter—Hall has been working hard on finding ways to be crafty and get the ball to the net. She also soaked up all she could during preseason practices, particularly taking notes from veteran point guard Stephanie Reid.
Hall says she chose UB because of the coaching staff and players. The team is focused on making the NCAA Tournament, as it did in 2016, and she wants to be an integral part of that. As a point guard, she is used to being a vocal leader on and off the court, and that’s something she doesn’t want to change just because she’s a freshman.
“I think we have a really, really talented team this year,” Hall says. “If we can come together, which I think we will, we’ll have a huge chance at making it to the tournament.”