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The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

Student news without fear or favor

Down under to downtown: Freshman forward left her mark on Sac State

Summah Hanson sits atop the Sac State single-season freshman scoring list
Jahson Nahal
Freshman forward Summah Hanson shoots a free throw against San Diego State University Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023. Hanson was named the Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year. (Photos courtesy of Sac State Athletics, graphic created in Canva by Jahson Nahal)

From growing up on a boat in Australia, to making waves in the NCAA, freshman forward Summah Hanson has solidified herself as a rising star after etching her name into Sacramento State’s record books.

Since a young age, Hanson has wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps of competing in the Olympics. While her father was a three-time Olympic medalist in rowing, Hanson has created her own path on the basketball court.

“Everything I do is stepping stones to try and get there one day,” Hanson said.

Hanson’s journey began with her living on a boat for almost 12 years, a fact that puzzles many that she tells.

“We lived quite a normal life except when we went home, we were just living on a boat instead of a house,” Hanson said.

Hanson said the boat was moored at a marina across from a beach on the Sunshine Coast, a region to the north of Brisbane, Queensland.

“I really loved it,” Hanson said. “I spent all my time at the beach, at the basketball court, hanging out with friends and going to school.”

Hanson’s parents knew she was going to be tall, so they got her started in basketball when she was around 7-years-old. From that point on, Hanson would continue to excel and eventually earn herself a scholarship to the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence in 2021.

The CoE has developed many stars who have gone onto the NBA, WNBA or Australia’s national teams including Andrew Bogut, Patty Mills, Penny Taylor and Hanson’s basketball idol, Lauren Jackson.

“So many greats have walked through those doors,” Hanson said. “You look at the alumni as you walk in and you’re like, ‘If I can put in the work, I could end up like them one day.’”

Freshman forward Summah Hanson sitting outside Yosemite Hall Tuesday Feb. 13, 2024. Hanson is the highest-scoring freshman in the program’s Division I history. (Jahson Nahal)

In her year and a half in the CoE, Hanson competed all over the world for Australia’s Gems and Sapphires teams, playing in FIBA tournaments in countries like India and Hungary.

After the FIBA 2022 cup in Hungary, Hanson was thinking of pursuing a developmental spot in the Women’s National Basketball League, until former Sac State head coach Mark Campbell reached out and recruited her.

“The program Mark presented to me was everything I wanted from a college,” Hanson said.

Things would take a twist when Campbell took the head coaching job at TCU, making it so Hanson could go back on her commitment.

Current Sac State head coach Aaron Kallhoff reached out and had three Zoom sessions with Hanson and her family, laying out a detailed plan of where he could see her be successful.

“I showed her that I was really going to invest into her and that she could be a focal point of the culture of our program,” Kallhoff said.

In just her first season at Sac State, Hanson wasted no time blazing her trail as she became only the second Hornet woman to win Big Sky Freshman of the Year behind a record-shattering season.

“If you told me a year ago I’d be winning this award, I probably wouldn’t have believed you,” Hanson said. “Just to see my hard work pay off and to be able to have made the most out of this opportunity, it means the world to me.”

Despite not being known as a scorer in Australia, Hanson broke Sac State’s Division I single-season freshman scoring record with a total of 434 points on the season.

RELATED: Sac State forward sets single-season record in loss

“We spent the first couple of weeks saying, ‘Hey, have the confidence to be a scorer, embrace it,’ and wow, she did embrace it,” Kallhoff said.

Freshman forward Summah Hanson goes up for a layup against Nevada Thursday, Nov. 10, 2023. Hanson had a total of 22 points and 11 rebounds in the game. (Photo courtesy of Nevada Athletics)

On top of Hanson’s scoring, her 14 double-doubles and defensive prowess against the best forwards in the Big Sky contributed to her Freshman of the Year honors.

Sac State first-year assistant coach Jodi Page, who is Hanson’s position coach, said she could see the immediate impact coming because of Hanson’s time in the CoE.

“I’m not surprised by Summah’s success just because of her preparation leading into it, her work ethic and her desire,” Page said.

Kallhoff also noted that Hanson’s work ethic has been a crucial part of her success and said it’s a testament to her parents.

“She’s always trying to work on facets of her game that she wants to make elite,” Kallhoff said. “To the point sometimes I have to tell her, ‘Hey shut it down,’ because she always wants to do extra work.”

Hanson seemed to adjust quickly on the court but said there was an adjustment period when it came to college life in America.

“I was like ‘Oh living away from home, I’ve already done it, it’s going to be easy,’” Hanson said. “That was a bit of a slap to the face, I got here and I was like, ‘I am on the other side of the world.’”

Hanson said it helps that her family has been able to make it to home games and cheer her on from the stands.

“Especially in the season when I do get homesick, knowing my parents are a month away or a couple weeks away until I get to see them, it recharges my batteries and keeps me going,” Hanson said.

Page, who is also from the Sunshine Coast, said it’s awesome getting to coach Hanson.

“I know when I go home there’s going to be a lot of people excited to talk about Summah,” Page said.

Following the end of the 2023-24 season, Hanson entered the transfer portal and quickly committed to UC Irvine.

Hanson’s 14 points and 8.8 rebounds per game is a big addition for a UC Irvine program who made their first NCAA tournament appearance in 29 years this past season.

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Jahson Nahal
Jahson Nahal, Sports Staffer
(he/him) Jahson Nahal is a graduating journalism major who is in his second semester as a sports staffer for The State Hornet. Previously, he was the sports editor for The American River College Current. He hopes to work in the sports media industry one day.
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