But she had a highly supportive team and staff during her four years at Hamilton Heights. The team competed at an elite high school level, and Hunt, along with Cardoso’s talented teammates and competitors, helped shape her into a well-rounded player. Cardoso could already fly down the court, and she developed the coordination to catch the ball mid-sprint toward the basket. Competitors’ constant blocking forced her to become more aware of her teammates—and thus, an expert passer. To help with the language barrier, Cardoso’s teammates also called plays in Portuguese.

Her language and on-the-court skills, especially her blocking and agility, sharpened under Hunt, and she thrived at Hamilton Heights, where she served as captain. Throughout her high school years, ESPN repeatedly pointed to Cardoso’s “off-the-charts potential.” As a senior, she averaged 24.1 points, 15.8 rebounds and 9.2 blocks, and was ranked the number 1 center and number 5 overall player in the class of 2020 by ESPN. She was also named McDonald’s All-American, WBCA All-American, won the Jordan Brand Classic award and was a finalist for the Naismith Award for girls’ basketball in 2020.

4. On the college level, she first signed with Syracuse.

As a college recruit, Cardoso’s potential and speedy play caught the attention of several college coaches, including Syracuse’s DeLisha Milton-Jones and Quentin Hillsman. Hillsman described Cardoso to Syracuse.com as a “once-in-a-decade kid” they “couldn’t pass up.” She was also Syracuse’s highest-rated high school recruit ever for the program.

Cardoso accepted a scholarship to join the Orange in 2020 and started her collegiate career with a bang. In her best performance of the season, Cardoso sank 24 points and made seven rebounds against Boston College. By the end of the season, she led the team in blocks with an average of 2.7 per game, and averaged 13.6 points and eight rebounds.

Cardoso also became the first player in the team’s history to be awarded the ACC Freshman of the Year Award; she won Co-Defensive Player of the Year and All-ACC First Team honors as well.

5. Cardoso then transferred to the University of South Carolina.

The Orange lost to the University of Connecticut in the second round of the NCAA tournament in 2021. Soon after, Cardoso entered the transfer portal, confirming that she was looking for a new team and coach.

And she found it with the Gamecocks. On April 30, 2021, the University of South Carolina announced that Cardoso would join the team under coach Dawn Staley, who described her as “a perfect complement to our program,” pointing to the rarity of Cardoso’s “mobility, rebounding prowess, and scoring ability at her size.”

6. She was instrumental in the Gamecocks’s Championship wins.

In Cardoso’s junior year in 2022, the team broke the school record with 36 wins and won the NCAA national championship—the first for Cardoso. And she only built upon that momentum in her senior year. She finished her college career on a high note, earning the most points, rebounds and blocks on her team, and won the NCAA Most Outstanding Player award.