The 2018 Final Four was a relatively easy process for the Villanova Wildcats. In the two games which Jay Wright’s team played in San Antonio, they won by double digits and did so handedly. They cruised through Kansas in the semi-final and held off Michigan in the title game. From an overall process it looked like an easy walkthrough for ‘Nova but there was a moment where the title run seemed in danger, as crazy as it seems.
It was the beginning of the title game and the Wolverines were sticking with Villanova, determined not to let the same mistakes which sunk Kansas beat them. Michigan made it a clear effort to run the Wildcats off the three-point line and force them into long two’s. Stopping Nova from finding success from three-point land is near impossible but Michigan showed they can be slowed down and made uncomfortable. That’s where Donte DiVincenzo came in. Dubbed “Delaware’s Michael Jordan”, DiVincenzo came off the bench with an inspiring 31-point performance. He led all scorers in the title game and the hype couldn’t get bigger. Now he’s testing his NBA draft stock so let’s take a look at what he can bring to the table.
The one thing which you can tell about DiVincenzo right off the bat is how hard he works along with his confidence. He’s shown it this whole season, especially in the National Championship game. DiVincenzo was pulling up all over the court and just knocking down shot after shot. It was stunning to watch but what was even more impressive was how he was able to provide some leadership to get Villanova’s offense cooking again. Early on in the first half, he took the ball and made plays on his own to get Nova back on track. He also showed no fear in driving to the rim or going up to block shots, especially when he rose up to the summit and blocked Chris Matthews dunk attempt. DiVincenzo was Villanova’s spark off the bench and a big part of it was how cool and collected he was. He never seemed shook and let’s the game come to him. Nothing is forced and out of rhythm. Part of it can be chalked up to the Jay Wright system but you saw there were multiple instances were DiVicenzo made the extra play and looked cool as an ice cube when doing so.
When it comes to DiVincenzo’s game on the court, his biggest strength is three-point shooting. He’s a real threat from downtown, shooting 40.1 percent from downtown on 5.3 attempts per game. His shot from NBA range was slightly worse at 35 percent (via the Stepien) but this is still a decent enough percent to show his shot will translate to the next level. DiVincenzo can provide any team which drafts him with a solid three-point shooting process. He will be able to stretch the floor and every team needs more three-point shooting. It would best be served in a complementary role as he could be a very good kick-out option. Shooting off the dribble is a skill he showed off in the title game but it’s hard to tell how it will translate to the NBA game. He might not get the same separation in the college that he will in the pros. But he is very well set in catch and shoot situations.
With the need for multiple ball handlers on the court at the same time, DiVincenzo fits the mold. He can handle the ball and be a semi-facilitator for his teammates. He averaged 3.5 assists per game and showed the ability to be a playmaker at times. This opens up his game offensively and makes him a more complete player. It’s one thing to have just shooting but the ability to put the ball on the floor and make plays adds another dimension.
DiVincenzo will be a solid guard for any team which drafts him. He will bring swagger to any team and gives 100% every night. The will aid him defensively if anything and in terms of offense, he can shoot well from 3 and be a playmaker at times.
There are a ton of questions about his size. At 6’5, he’s average size and should comfortably be a 1 guard and maybe a 2 in the NBA. But the real question is where teams will put him on the floor defensively and who will he guard. More importantly, can he handle the guard matchups in the NBA considering both positions bring in questions about his defense.
Will he be able to shooting guards who are bigger than him? DiVincenzo was ok on defense for Villanova, posting a 2.9 defensive box plus/minus for the National champs. he showed he can be somewhat of a good perimeter defender but in the NBA he could be asked to guys bigger than him. He should be fine against point guards as his foot speed is fast enough and he’s big enough to stay in front of his man. This is the real concern for DiVincenzo. We are seeing bigger and bigger wing players and DiVincenzo could be forced to guard them. Teams could be inclined to isolate him in one on one situations and one big thing he will have to learn is how to learn to defend in space. He doesn’t improve this, it could hinder his ability to play in crunch time situations, where teams are more inclined to play iso ball.
Offensively there are questions of how he will fit in the offense of the team which drafts him. He played a limited role at Villanova and it’s reasonable to ask if he can handle a bigger workload for an NBA team. Can still be so productive when he’s playing more minutes than he has in college? That includes the jumpsuit as well. He was given free range to be himself offensively at Villanova. A lot had to with him coming off the bench and being more fresh than other players along with playing against other bench guys. He won’t be given the same freedom in the NBA. Remaining cool and patient are two different things so DiVincenzo will have to learn how to be both. He doesn’t let things get to him but could be inclined to take some shots when he’s not feeling himself offensively. If DiVincenzo is able to remain patient to find his shots in an NBA offense, he will be fine.
Overall, Donte DiVincenzo is a solid NBA prospect. Other than Mikal Bridges, he’s expected to be another Nova player taken in the first round. His draft stock has never been higher and credit to him for taking advantage of it. He can be a solid three-point threat and a 3rd option on an NBA team. There is a good chance he will find himself in the same role he was at Nova, being a big spark off the bench. He’s an exceptional athlete and will be a very good energy at the very least. Yes, there are questions about his game. Most of which are on defense. But there is a lot of good he can offer a team in the range he will be taken in (late first round).