DiVincenzo deals with scrutiny, visibility in new NBA world
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Donte DiVincenzo is adapting just fine to his changing life.
He’s jet-setting from one NBA city to another, working out in front of curious coaches and inquisitive general managers. He’s more at ease now that he’s gotten past the big draft decision, and the 6-foot-4 guard finds it a little more challenging to go out, too.
It’s all part of his new, professional world.
“I’m a lot more recognizable now,” DiVincenzo joked Friday in Indianapolis. “I used to be able to go to the mall or the movies. Now I can’t really do that because people come up to me all the time. But it’s a good problem to have.”
Yes, success sometimes comes with a price. He also knows it could be much worse.
Not many 21-year-olds are introduced as a two-time NCAA champion and DiVincenzo is the only one who actually holds the title of the Final Four’s reigning Most Outstanding Player.
The tough guy who grew up in Delaware and stole the hearts of the Philadelphia fans with his gritty play, relentless effort and sensational shooting at Villanova must now prove himself all over again in front of some of the sport’s biggest names.
His audience Friday included two former decision-makers for the Indiana Pacers — Donnie Walsh and Larry Bird. Both still work for the team, though Kevin Pritchard is the team’s president of basketball operations.
Coach Nate McMillan and his assistants also monitored the workouts, which included Ohio State’s Keita Bates-Diop, Cincinnati’s Gary Clark and Central Florida’s A.J. Davis, the son of former Pacers player Antonio Davis.
But DiVincenzo was the feature attraction. He dazzled the small audience with another strong shooting performance, rekindling visions of the 31-point game he had on championship night as the Wildcats blew past Michigan for their second championship in three years.
And he thought he answered some of the questions league executives have been asking.
“Before the combine, there were a lot of questions about whether I could guard multiple positions,” he said. “I think they can put me anywhere on the floor. I pride myself on defending and rebounding.”
The combine also convinced DiVincenzo it was time to leave school early.
After receiving one of 60 invitations to work out in Chicago, DiVincenzo was almost certain he should go. But there was one more step, meeting with Villanova coach Jay Wright, as the pressure mounted to make his decision official before the May 31 deadline.
“Personally, I knew before the deadline. I knew I was ready, but I didn’t want to make an irrational decision,” DiVincenzo said. “If I wouldn’t have gotten an invite, it might have sent a message to me.”
Now he’s in, working out and hoping to improve his draft stock.
As for his plans on draft night, June 21, they haven’t been finalized. But a big blowout just isn’t DiVincenzo’s style.
“I might just have a small draft party in Philly,” he said.
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