Title game hero Donte DiVincenzo declares for NBA draft without hiring agent

Villanova guard Donte DiVincenzo winks during the second half of the NCAA championship game. (Getty Images)
Villanova guard Donte DiVincenzo winks during the second half of the NCAA championship game. (Getty Images)

The hero of Villanova’s national title run will try to see if he can parlay his brilliant championship game performance into interest from the NBA.

Redshirt sophomore guard Donte DiVincenzo announced on Thursday that he is declaring for the NBA draft without hiring an agent. He’ll have until early June to decide whether to keep his name in the draft or return to school for the 2018-19 season.

“Donte has consistently improved in his time at Villanova through dedication and a commitment to our core values,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said in a statement. “His play this season has created a unique opportunity for him to receive feedback from NBA teams in the draft process. We support Donte fully and our staff will work together with him and his family to help him assess the next step in his basketball career.”

DiVincenzo was already on the NBA’s radar even before he erupted for a career-high 31 points in Villanova’s 79-62 rout of Michigan earlier this month. He’s an athletic, versatile combo guard who boasts the quickness and bounce to attack the rim off the dribble, the size and wingspan to defend multiple positions and the skill to shoot 40 percent from behind the arc.

While DiVincenzo averaged 13 points per game as Villanova’s sixth man this past season, he was often overshadowed by national player of the year Jalen Brunson and lottery pick Mikal Bridges. He showcased his full arsenal in the national title game against Michigan, shredding a formidable Wolverines defense by unleashing a stunning flurry of driving layups, backdoor dunks and impossibly deep 3-pointers.

“He had the game of his life,” one veteran scout told Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel the night of the title game. “Helped him probably get some first-round looks.”

DiVincenzo will have an opportunity to solidify himself as a potential late first-round pick the next six weeks during workouts for NBA teams. Or he could return to school, work on his decision making with the ball in his hands and attempt to climb even higher in a 2019 draft that is not projected to be anywhere near as strong at the top as this year’s draft should be.

Whether DiVincenzo and forward Omari Spellman return to Villanova next season is one of the questions that should define next year’s college basketball season. The Wildcats could be the preseason No. 1 team next season if both return to play starring roles. Conversely, it would be tough to envision Villanova contending for the national title if both follow Brunson and Bridges out the door.

Villanova also announced Thursday that starters Eric Paschall and Phil Booth will return for their senior seasons. A nucleus of DiVincenzo, Spellman, Paschall, Booth and heralded freshman Jahvon Quinerly would give Villanova a very realistic chance of becoming college basketball’s first repeat national champion since Florida in 2006 and 2007.

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Jeff Eisenberg is a college basketball writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at daggerblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!