Villanova’s Donte DiVincenzo already has a handful of monikers to his name: the Michael Jordan of Delaware, the Big Ragu, Big East Sixth Man of the Year, and Final Four Most Outstanding Player. After next Thursday night, he’ll likely be able to add one more to the list: first-round NBA draft pick.
As recently as early March, no one would have expected this path for DiVincenzo. Then, in the second round of the NCAA tournament, when draft evaluators were honed in on Collin Sexton, Mikal Bridges, and Jalen Brunson, DiVincenzo scored 18 points in the first half against Alabama. Of course, what really launched his draft buzz into the stratosphere was his career-high 31 points in the title game against Michigan, a record for points in the championship game from someone off the bench.
Still, when DiVincenzo went off for workouts, it was widely expected that he would receive some feedback and return for one more collegiate season as “the man” on the Main Line. Instead, DiVincenzo stood out in on-court scrimmages and absolutely crushed the combine portion of the proceedings. The 21-year-old had the highest standing vertical leap of any player (34.5”) in the draft class, and tied Josh Okogie for the best max vertical leap (42.0”). He also ranked 6th in the lane agility drill. Suddenly, DiVincenzo was a lock to go in the first round and his Villanova career had come to an end.
What should NBA fans expect from DiVincenzo?
in 2015, DiVincenzo received a redshirt one month into his true freshman season due to a fracture in his right foot. After that setback, DiVincenzo shot 36.5% from three during his redshirt freshman season and a whopping 40.1% on over 5 attempts per game last year. In what became a breakout campaign for the Wildcats sixth man, DiVincenzo finished with averages of 13.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.5 assists.
With a high, quick release, DiVincenzo should absolutely function as a floor spacer at the next level. However, he’s much more than that, showcasing true ability as a three-level scorer at Villanova. In addition to his prowess from the outside, where DiVincenzo was able to spot-up and create shots for himself, the redshirt sophomore drained 45.7% of his 70 mid-range jumpers last season. He also showed talent in getting to the rim, where that elite athleticism often came in handy.
While DiVincenzo’s scoring ability should translate to the NBA level, the defensive end represents more of a question mark. While he is quick enough to defend both guard positions, he is very undersized as a two guard at 6’4.5” with just a 6’6” wingspan. Unless DiVincenzo is slotted alongside a big point guard who can defend wings, he should be at a disadvantage in nearly every matchup.
On the plus side, while he may be a liability as an off-ball defender, DiVincenzo pays attention to his responsibilities as a weakside defender (as you would expect from a Jay Wright acolyte). Once again, the athleticism flashes with some truly exemplary blocks at the rim.
Donte DiVincenzo, not just a shooter!— Def Pen Sports (@DefPenSports) April 3, 2018
He goes up for the block! pic.twitter.com/PauaZtjQJJ
As many people have brought up, DiVincenzo could represent a fairly direct replacement for Marco Belinelli as instant offense off the bench from the guard position. In time, I would argue DiVincenzo’s skill set could offer slightly more than Belinelli on both ends. Offensively, his abilities as a secondary ball handler would be a boon for a Sixers team that only had Ben Simmons and T.J. McConnell capable of creating offense last season. On the other end, DiVincenzo is more athletic than Belinelli, but would likely still be targeted by the opposition. We saw in the Boston series how having any minus defenders on the floor is a huge liability. Like any offense-first guards, it will be up to DiVincenzo to prove the scoring he creates makes up for any points his presence allows.
Different projections have DiVincenzo going all over the back half of the first round. Although he has yet to be brought in for a workout in Philadelphia, you would imagine the organization had plenty of opportunities to examine him with the Wildcats and Sixers playing in the same building last season. DiVincenzo could very well be available when the 26th pick rolls around. It wouldn’t be surprising if the organization who has their G-league team in Wilmington took a long, hard look at the Michael Jordan of Delaware.