I remember the reaction when I tweeted this during the second round beatdown of Alabama when Donte DiVincenzo went off in the first half to keep the struggling Cats from falling behind. It looked something like this:
I wish it was the DiVincenzo burner account so he wouldn’t be getting lambasted today for his Tweets as a high school student. Alas. DiVincenzo is indeed an NBA prospect, and that suddenly became the topic of conversation last night.
Yahoo Sports reached out to a handful of NBA scouts and executives in the wake of DiVincenzo’s performance, and there’s certainly interest in him around the NBA. “He had the game of his life,” one veteran scout said in a text. “Helped him probably get some first-round looks.”
There wasn’t a consensus, as another scout predicted he’d be a late first-round pick and a third said he’d either go in the second or go undrafted. But no one argued the importance of shooting 5 of 7 from 3-point range, grabbing five rebounds and being what former teammate Josh Hart called “the best player on the floor.” Added one scout: “I think [tonight] will have a large impact.”
Just wondering…if you had to make a pick right now which player would you take: Trae Young or DiVincenzo?
— Michael Wilbon (@RealMikeWilbon) April 3, 2018
Why isn’t Donte DiVincenzo being talked about as a lottery pick? Now on @undisputed
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) April 3, 2018
I hate those last two guys, but they fit my narrative here so let’s roll with it.
How about Charles Barkley?
— MVB (@mvb123) April 3, 2018
He’ll be playing on Sundays.
Jay Wright was asked about it and offered up a sheepish answer as he may have just come to the realization that DiVincenzo is now a legit NBA prospect:
It had been figured that DiVincenzo would be back next year, likely leading yet another top 10 team.
A redshirt sophomore who actually played in one game during Villanova’s 2016 National Championship season (we have to specify them now), DiVincenzo was rather raw last season and into parts of this season. Here’s what I wrote about him before the tournament last year:
A TWOFER! Congratulations to Donte DiVincenzo, THE BIG RAGU*, for not only being the sleeper star, but also Jay’s trademarked Italian point guard.
DiVincenzo picks up right where Mike Nardi (a current assistant who picked up wads of cash and Euro style** while playing in Italia) and Arcidiacono left off. Rumor has it Jay is recruiting an actual meatball, currently a high school freshman, to replace DiVincenzo, a medical redshirt freshman, when he graduates in three years. His game is said to be delicious.
Donte played in a handful of games last season and then broke the fifth metatarsal bone in his foot and had to watch the National Championship run from the bench. He swaps places with Phil Booth this year. Booth, who scored 20 points against North Carolina in the title game, has missed the entire season with pain in his surgically repaired knee and will take a redshirt. But DiVincenzo has done a lot over the last few months to alleviate concerns about Booth’s absence. The Michael Jordan of Delaware***, Donte is an insanely athletic white guard**** with impressive hops. He’s someone who will attempt three rim-rattling dunks this month… and convert one of them. He won the Virginia game in January with a last-second tip-in of Hart’s missed layup attempt. To me, he may be the best NBA prospect on the Wildcats. He’s young, and a bit raw, but he’s improved markedly over the course of the season and has next level athleticism.
In fact, he did rim job a dunk during that tournament.
The difference this year is that he converts all three of them, and then stuffs a guy at the rim:
This is insane. Photo credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports pic.twitter.com/NkZsCAamPx
— Kyle Scott (@CrossingBroad) April 3, 2018
Oh, and he shoots the three:
Those are pro skills, and were it not for Omari Spellman, I’d argue that DiVincenzo has the best pro prospects of any player on the team. I’d rank them thusly:
- Omari Spellman (next year)
- Donte DiVincenzo (next year?)
- Mikal Bridges (this year)
- Jalen Brunson (this year)
DiVincenzo’s performance last night, while eminently impressive, was not a surprise to most Villanova fans. He has, as Clark Kellogg would awkwardly say before telling you about pseudo penetration, spurtability. He spurts a lot. And while one can argue that Villanova actually didn’t play a great game last night, DiVincenzo’s performance serves as evidence as to how great they were. They were so deep and talented, and could beat you in so many ways, that even when their threes didn’t fall, they could beat you with a talented scoring guard, or defense. There was almost no way to beat them. Michigan effectively shut down Brunson and Bridges, but then DiVincenzo just torched them, something that makes NBA scouts giddy.
If I had to guess, DiVincenzo sticks around for another year, becomes one of the top guards in the country, perhaps leads his team to another National Championship, and then becomes a first round pick. That seems like the better path for him. But then again, I also felt this way about Kyle Lowry after his sophomore season. We all know how that ended. DiVincenzo feels eerily similar to Lowry in the regard. And while not quite the force of human contents that Lowry was, DiVincenzo is more polished than Lowry was at this stage. And he just won a National Championship, off the bench.