This piece does not reflect the views of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Sophomore (redshirt), SG, Villanova
College Stats in 2017-18:
40 games, 29.3 MPG, 13.4 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.1 SPG, 48.1 FG%, 40.1 3P%, 71.0 FT%
Most Outstanding Player of the 2018 NCAA Tournament
Big East Sixth Man of the Year
Where he’ll go:
DiVincenzo projects a late first-round pick.
If you follow college basketball, you’ve heard the name Donte DiVincenzo. The redshirt sophomore from Villanova set the world on fire in this year’s NCAA title game, scoring 31 points on 66.7 percent shooting from the field.
The title game showed the heights that DiVincenzo could reach—his performance was truly inspired—but can he maintain that level of performance?
Here’s the plus side. DiVincenzo is a hard worker with a real knack for putting the ball in the hoop. He shot 48.1 percent from the field and 40.1 percent from three last year with the Wildcats. Those are good numbers. DiVincenzo can score from all areas of the floor—he’s a good finisher and a good outside shooter. DiVincenzo is also a high-energy rebounder, a good passer, and a physical, committed defender. He won’t be in any coach’s doghouse for not trying.
It would be easy to say that DiVincenzo projects as a type of “heat check” bench scorer that is so common in the league, think Nick Young or Gerald Green, but I’m not sure that’s the right comparison. A lot of bench scorers get the (deserved or not) reputation as players who are primarily focused on their stats, sometimes to the detriment of their teams. DiVincenzo isn’t going to be that guy.
He’s a high-character team player who has shown an ability to step up in big moments, but he doesn’t need to be in the spotlight. At Villanova, he played his entire career as a second fiddle to Mikal Bridges and Jalen Brunson, but that didn’t stop him from succeeding. At the NBA level, he’ll be willing to play whatever role his team needs.
DiVincenzo is confident, but not cocky, which is certainly encouraging:
“My confidence level is I think I can be a first-round pick, I think I can be a professional basketball player. But I never speak on that. I don’t speak on that, boost myself walking around on social media or anything,” he said at the NBA Draft Combine.
On the negative side, while DiVincenzo is a hustle player, he probably won’t be an elite defender. That’s no knock on his effort, but he might just not have the strength to match up with larger guards, or the speed to stay with smaller ones. He does have great verticality—he led the Combine in standing leap and max vertical—but his lateral movement leaves something to be desired. With NBA-level training he could become a better athlete, and his motor will certainly assist in that process, but teams should not expect him to come in and be a lockdown defender right away.
DiVincenzo also needs to improve his consistency. While his percentages in college were good, he went through cold stretches from the floor. He also was never the focus of opposing teams’ game plans. DiVincenzo could be useful to NBA teams if he can be an anchor for their bench units, but he needs to prove he can succeed when he’s the best player on the floor for his team. The Villanova offense got players like DiVincenzo a lot of open looks—those shots are going to be harder to come by at the next level.
DiVincenzo is a player who has a proven ability to succeed in big moments, and he could be a valuable asset to a team that wants to contend. If he falls into the right situation, DiVincenzo could have a long NBA career. But there’s also definitely a scenario where he isn’t able to translate his production to the next level and is simply overwhelmed by the level of competition. Time will tell, but DiVincenzo is no quitter. If he has anything to say about it, this kid might be something special.