Donte DiVincenzo//Photography by Villanova
Not long ago, Donte DiVincenzo was selling out Birkenhauer Memorial Gymnasium at Salesianum School with his thunderous dunks and unparalleled athletic exploits. The standing-room-only crowds knew they were witnessing greatness in the play of this red-headed dynamo.
In April, DiVincenzo became the talk of March Madness when he put the Villanova Wildcats on his back and carried them to the NCAA national championship. His dominant—and somewhat surprising—finals performance earned him Final Four Most Outstanding Player honors and the cover of Sports Illustrated. It also inspired him to enter this year’s NBA draft.
DiVincenzo—dubbed Delaware’s Michael Jordan while leading the Sals to two straight state titles and earning state player of the year—wasn’t even on experts’ mock draft boards before the April 2 NCAA final. In the nationally televised game, he exploded off the bench to score 31 points on 10-for-15 shooting, draining three-pointers, blocking shots and generally disrupting Michigan’s offense. He lifted the Wildcats to their second national title in three years with a 76-62 victory.
The redshirt sophomore had spent most of the regular season providing a spark off the bench as the Wildcats’ sixth man. He outdid himself in the final, scoring 18 of his team’s first 32 points, then taking over down the stretch.
He was pictured on the cover of the April 9 issue of Sports Illustrated with a large headline that screamed: “Donte’s Epic. The perfect performance.”
The experience and accompanying buzz in the basketball world convinced DiVincenzo to explore entering the NBA draft. He again impressed observers at the draft combine, where players are put through the paces to demonstrate their overall ability to potentially excel at the pro level. After the combine, some experts were projecting DiVincenzo as a first-round pick (top 30). Indeed, he ended up being selected 17th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in the June 21 draft.
It seems DiVincenzo is well on his way of following in the sneaker-steps of perhaps the First State’s most popular athlete ever—Elena Delle Donne.
See more 2018 Best of Delaware winners.