Santiago "Santi" Aldama Toledo (born 10 January 2001) is a Spanish college basketball player for the Loyola Greyhounds of the Patriot League. He was named most valuable player (MVP) of the 2019 FIBA U18 European Championship.
Early life and career
Aldama was brought up in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Spain. He started playing basketball at age three because his father and uncle played the sport professionally. Aldama grew up idolizing basketball players Pau Gasol, Juan Carlos Navarro, and Kobe Bryant.
Since his introduction to basketball, Aldama played for Canterbury Basketball Academy in Las Palmas and later chose to remain there, despite receiving offers from bigger clubs like FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Gran Canaria. At the 2017 Spanish Under-16 Championship, he averaged 18.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game, playing for Canterbury alongside Oumar Ballo. He helped his team to a surprising third-place finish behind FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. In 2018, Aldama played on loan for the FC Barcelona under-18 team at Ciutat de L'Hospitalet qualifiers in the Adidas Next Generation Tournament.
On 5 August 2019, Aldama committed to move to the United States and play college basketball for Loyola–Maryland, a mid-major program that competes in the Patriot League. He was drawn to the school because his father knew assistant coach Ivo Simović and due to Aldama's hopes of an eventual business career, and he felt comfortable when he visited the school in June. Considered a four-star recruit and a high-major talent, Aldama's decision to play for a mid-major program took many analysts by surprise. Evan Daniels of 247Sports called him "one of the biggest college-bound international steals in quite a while."
|Name||Hometown||High school / college||Height||Weight||Commit date|
|Spain||Canterbury Academy||6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)||205 lb (93 kg)||Aug 5, 2019|
|Overall recruiting rankings: 247Sports: 61|
Aldama missed the first three months of his freshman season with a knee injury that required surgery. He made his collegiate debut for Loyola–Maryland on February 1, 2020, scoring 11 points in 17 minutes in a 79–73 win over Navy. Aldama was named Patriot League Rookie of the Week three times in the span of four weeks. At the end of the regular season, he was named to the Patriot League All-Rookie Team. On March 3, he scored a season-high 23 points in a 78–75 loss to Lehigh in the first round of the Patriot League Tournament.
National team career
Aldama made his national team debut for Spain at the 2017 FIBA U16 European Championship in Podgorica, Montenegro, averaging nine points and 5.4 rebounds per game. He led his team to a gold medal at the 2019 FIBA U18 European Championship in Volos, Greece, averaging 18 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 2.3 blocks, and 1.9 steals per game. Aldama was named tournament most valuable player (MVP) and joined his teammate Usman Garuba on the All-Star Five.
Aldama's father, Santiago Aldama, played professional basketball in Spain and Portugal and joined the Spanish national team at the 1992 Summer Olympics. His uncle Santiago Toledo also played professional basketball in Spain, Italy, and Portugal.