Villanova Wildcats’ Donte DiVincenzo will excel next season

Jan 29, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Villanova Wildcats guard Donte DiVincenzo (10) dribbles the ball past Virginia Cavaliers forward Isaiah Wilkins (21) during the second half at Wells Fargo Center. The Villanova Wildcats won 61-59. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 29, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Villanova Wildcats guard Donte DiVincenzo (10) dribbles the ball past Virginia Cavaliers forward Isaiah Wilkins (21) during the second half at Wells Fargo Center. The Villanova Wildcats won 61-59. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

As the Villanova Wildcats look to improve upon last season, guard Donte DiVincenzo will need to double down on a very promising freshman year.

The Villanova Wildcats have an interesting season ahead of them. From NCAA champions to a second round exit this team has had its ups and its downs. However, this year could be the difference maker. One of the key players this season comes in the form of sophomore Donte DiVincenzo.

Interestingly enough, Donte DiVincenzo played an important part in the Wildcats’ game plan last season. On the one hand, the Wildcats ran a seven-person rotation. That rotation depended heavily on DiVincenzo. With the lack of guard depth on that team, he was able to find his way as a key bench piece.

Now, while that role suited him well, this may not be the case next season. Bare in mind that guard Josh Hart has graduated and will most likely be drafted this summer in the NBA Draft. Because of this, Villanova will have a huge hole to fill. As a key contributor last season, DiVincenzo could earn a promotion of sorts. That promotion would consist of a starting position with the team.

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With that said, can Donte DiVincenzo replace Josh Hart? Is he ready to start? What sorts of growing pains can Villanova fans expect? In a sense, he could do just fine. Considering his previous role with the team, it may make sense to expect a seamless transition. Obviously, we can only hope. Although, based on his track record, Donte Divincenzo could prove to be important next season.

Big Ragu, Big Hart?

Now, it goes without saying that Josh Hart played a huge part in Villanova’s success last season. Considering the fact that he, for all intents and purposes, led that team, it will be hard to replace Josh Hart. However, that does not mean that guys can’t fill his void.

As previously mentioned, Jalen Brunson could look to take the leading role in Villanova. While this may turn out true, other needs will need addressing. Clearly, the issue of who fills in for Hart at the two-guard position seems important. Hart’s talent alone will definitely prove difficult to address, but not impossible. The Villanova Wildcats have someone who can fill that role. In such a case, Donte DiVincenzo looks like a perfect fit.

The Big Ragu’s Big Offense

Offensively, Donte DiVincenzo has some serious game. He stands out among other players on his team on this end of the floor. Considering how Villanova guards have the reputation of playing at a slower pace, DiVincenzo blows that barrier out of the water. He gets to the rack better than most guards in the Big East.

Villanova Wildcats Basketball
Villanova Wildcats Basketball /

Villanova Wildcats Basketball

Interestingly enough, “The Big Ragu” has some big time hops. One of his most well-known attributes, his athletic ability, has already worked to the benefit of the Wildcats. He can flat-out put defenders on skates.

Donte DiVincenzo excels in the paint, with the ability to hit the glass hard. For a guard, this makes him much more valuable. While guards traditionally don’t grab boards on a frequent basis, DiVincenzo lives down low. Labeling him simply as a guard does not do him justice. He fits the mold of what two-way players are all about.

In addition, Donte DiVincenzo can step out and hit the outside shot. Last season, he shot a solid 36.5 percent from three point range. While that’s not a crazy good statistic, it does show that he has multiple dimensions offensively.

Another tidbit on Donte DiVincenzo- he posted a 16.9 player efficiency rating last season. Given how Josh Hart posted a Big East-leading 28.1 player efficiency rating, one could infer that an expanded role in the rotation could only help DiVincenzo. Remember, Hart’s player efficiency rating went up with every year he played at Villanova. Basically, more playing time and opportunities equal increased efficiency. If anyone can do it, The Big Ragu can. That sort of talent can help Villanova in a number of ways.

The Big Ragu’s Big Defense

Defensively, Donte DiVincenzo can do a lot for the Villanova Wildcats. Like I said before, he has the premier athletic ability. That led to a number of chase down blocks last season. It shows that he never gives up on a play. Similar to Josh Hart, Donte DiVincenzo showed a desire to go after the ball on both ends of the floor.

Last season, DiVincenzo practically came on the season on the defensive end of the floor. He dominated the Big East with his ability to track down loose balls and chase down opposing guards. Interestingly enough, he posted a 97.8 defensive rating. This put him at seventh in the Big East behind, you guessed it, Josh Hart among others. In addition, he also posted the eighth highest defensive win shares rate (1.7) of anyone in the Big East conference. Josh Hart led the conference with his 2.6 rating.

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Essentially, both Hart and DiVincenzo dominated on the defensive end of the floor. Having Hart as a mentor definitely helped DiVincenzo learn to play on both ends of the floor. If we’ve learned anything from watching Villanova Wildcats basketball, Jay Wright loves his upperclassmen. Having  DiVincenzo along for the ride could prove vital to their success this season. Considering how he did well on both ends of the floor, Donte DiVincenzo can do well this season. Hopefully, he can excel in this new found role and make strides for the Villanova Wildcats.