Who is Donte DiVincenzo? 'The Michael Jordan of Delaware,' that's who

Donte DiVincenzo has two popular nicknames. One is “Big Ragu.” The other is “The Michael Jordan of Delaware.” And after his performance for Villanova in the national championship game on Monday night, both nicknames are as apt as ever.

The first is a reference to his red hair. The second, though, is the one DiVincenzo validated with 31 points, five rebounds, three assists and two blocks to lead Villanova to a 79-62 victory over Michigan, and to a second national title in three years. (It also earned him the NCAA tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award.)

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He had 18 points in the first half, and brought Villanova back from an early 21-14 deficit to a 37-28 halftime lead.

He continued to star in the second half on both ends of the floor. He met Michigan’s Charles Matthews at the summit and stifled him at the rim.

DiVincenzo’s fifth 3-pointer of the night put the Wildcats up 62-44. And in true Michael Jordan of Delaware fashion, he topped it off with a wink!

Oh, and he did it all off the bench. So who is Villanova’s sixth man extraordinaire?

DiVincenzo is a starter coming off the bench

He’s often referred to as Nova’s sixth starter. He played more minutes this year than three of Villanova’s actual starters on Monday night, and started 10 games himself while teammates were battling injuries. He averaged 13 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 29.1 minutes per game, and was named the Big East Sixth Man of the Year.

Villanova guard Donte DiVincenzo exploded during the first half of the national championship game against Michigan. (Getty)
Villanova guard Donte DiVincenzo exploded during the first half of the national championship game against Michigan. (Getty)

DiVincenzo turned around Monday’s game with his 3-point shooting, and that’s one of his primary talents. He shot 39 percent from beyond the arc on over 200 attempts. But his offensive skill set is comprehensive. He can attack off the dribble. He’s an above-the-rim finisher in transition

Announcers love to refer to his athleticism and explosiveness as “deceiving” – you can probably guess why – but there’s nothing deceiving about it. He’s been dunking on opponents ever since he took the floor for the Wildcats two years ago.

DiVincenzo is a sophomore – a redshirt sophomore

Jay Wright didn’t plan to redshirt DiVincenzo when the three-star recruit arrived at Villanova. The 6-foot-5 combo guard played 18, 9, 19 and 11 minutes in the first four games of the 2015-16 season. He appeared in eight games in all, but fractured the fifth metatarsal bone in his right foot.

The injury was diagnosed in time for DiVincenzo to medically redshirt and preserve a year of eligibility. The Wildcats went on to win the national title without him. Then, in his second freshman season, DiVincenzo averaged 8.8 points in 25.5 minutes per game. He had his moments, but was mostly a tertiary option off the bench on the Villanova team that won a fourth consecutive Big East title.

“He was a true star in high school and it’s hard for a star to learn how to play off the bench and be really effective,” Wright told philly.com of DiVincenzo last season. “I don’t think he’d ever been on the bench in his life.”

He improved in almost all areas this year as a sophomore.

He really was the Michael Jordan of Delaware high school hoops

DiVincenzo was born in Newark, and played at Salesianum High School in Wilmington. He won back-to-back Delaware state tournament titles, and was the state’s boys basketball player of the year as a senior in 2015.

DiVincenzo wasn’t even a top-100 recruit coming out of Delaware, but garnered offers from Villanova, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Penn State, Virginia Tech and Vanderbilt, among others. He committed to Villanova over Syracuse during January of his junior year.

And on Monday night, every single Villanova fan was grateful that he did.

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Henry Bushnell covers soccer and basketball for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at henrydbushnell@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell.

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