Donte DiVincenzo signs his LOI for Villanova @Salesianum signing day. Seven Sals committed today. #delhs pic.twitter.com/YcunJKKMzP— Mike Lang (@mlang68) November 12, 2014
When Donte Divincenzo was growing up in the busy, urban confines of Wilmington, Delaware, he and his father would always have the same, little chat.
He would watch players dazzle big crowds across the Big East, in bigger arenas and gasp at their athleticism or their ability to put the ball through the hoop from twenty-five feet.It amazed him. It engulfed him. And if he wanted to have the same life, the same aspirations he had to decide.
It was either basketball or soccer. High school was rapidly approaching. And he had to make a vital choice. One that he still reminisces on and remembers to this week.
"I used to play soccer, that was my main sport and I always loved both," Divincenzo told VU Hoops on Tuesday afternoon. "But watching college basketball growing up, I told my dad I wanted to be just like them. Going into high school I quit soccer for basketball. I had a feeling that I could play at the next level and since I loved the game so much that just pushed me."
Divincenzo's choice proved to be pivotal in his maturation. The 6-foot-4, 180-pound Salesianum School off-guard made it to elite circles with his scoring ability and shooting touch. He played with Mikal Bridges and other area prospects for the Nike EYBL squad: Team Final, and traveled the country impressing college coaches.
But there was always one that caught his attention, not for the fancy Italian trimmed suits that he wore or how he turned Villanova University into "Guard U," but his overall demeanor and personality lured the guard to stay in his native area over Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Notre Dame and more.
"There were a bunch of things that made me lean towards Villanova," he said. "One big one was Coach Wright. Watching practices, the way he developed players over four years brought me there. Him being honest and telling me what to work on was great, plus just him. He as a person is great."
In January, Divincenzo made the first step in solidifying his future that's come to it's more tangible moment this week. He and his teammates braved through the wintry air to watch a Villanova practice. By the end, he had informed Wright that he'd be headed to the Main Line.
That makes Wednesday an ounce more important for Divincenzo. When he committed, there was no press conference. There was no huge fanfare. Delaware's most recruited player last season delivered the news to his future coach within the solitude of the bleak Villanova Pavilion, the only people watching were those who helped propel him to that level.
"It's just a great feeling," he said. "I've been committed for so long, so it's been a long time coming, [Wednesday] makes it official and it's a good feeling."
Delaware's top recruit joins a 2015 recruiting class, including big man Tim Delaney and highly regarded midwest guard Jalen Brunson, that's top-20 in the NCAA next year according to 24/7 Sports. Divincenzo admitted that he wanted to improve his scoring ability because he knew "Ryan Arcidiacono and [Brunson] would be bringing the ball up the most."
He said he'll be attending every Wildcat home game this season and that his premature thoughts are that he wants a "Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, Final Four and all of that." He also mentioned contending for Big East Rookie of the Year, but that he was "focusing on the team aspect first."
It's been a long ride for Divincenzo. From the soccer pitch, to the long talks with his father - who with his mother will overlook his signing - about one day being a college player. The wait is finally over. The ride has finally ceased. And by this time next year, Villanova will have it's next guard. Delaware's top guard is on his way to the Main Line.
And it wasn't without the help of a few friends along the way.
"A lot of us on our AAU team has talked about where we wanted to go but it was all just talk," Divincenzo said about his dreams of playing college basketball. "Signing the document, it sinks in. We are going somewhere. We are going to college for free and we get to play basketball. Not that many people get that opportunity.
"It's really funny, last year when I just started to get recruited by Vilanova and [Mikal Bridges] was signing, he persuaded me in a way to go to Nova. It's kind of weird talking about going forward for when I get there, not just for baseball but also for housing and other things.. We played for the same AAU organization and we built off that."
#NovaNation let's welcome our newest family member, @DonteDivincenzo! @NovaMBB pic.twitter.com/7jDqq4i9eV— Jay Wright (@VUCoachJWright) November 12, 2014