Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Delle Donne lives on

Well obviously. In case you stopped caring about the former #1 high school recruit was doing after she abruptly and amid great controversy left UConn several years ago without ever playing a game for the Huskies--here's an update.
She's doing fine. Perhaps even great? She enrolled at Delaware. Played volleyball for the Blue Hens for one season and then joined the basketball team where she has had quite an effect--to put it mildly.
And the media has not quite forgotten about her. This morning Frank Deford's weekly commentary focused on Delle Donne and her time at Delaware, the team's outstanding record, and her relationship with her family--specifically her sister who suffers from cerebal palsy and cannot see or hear. Many cite--along with extreme burnout--her relationship with her sister as the reason why Delle Donne could not commit to an intercollegiate career at UConn. He frames the decision as a noble one based on sacrifice.* (He also says that she is the best player in the country--a title I am sure Brittney Griner is taking issue with. Perhaps he is trying to subtly let all those ESPN commentators know that Delle Donne still exists.)
I think it was just a matter of priorities and finding the best way to have everything she wanted. She gets to play the game she loves--and she got the opportunity to learn to love the game again (I'm assuming that she does or she would have stuck with volleyball) and she gets to be near her family. I hope these things in addition to the extreme pressure and burnout that comes when one is recruited from the age of 13 silence critics like former UConn player Kara Wolters who was a little harsh in her comments on Delle Donne: "What a waste. It's the most bizarre thing I've ever heard. To have an opportunity like that to play, obviously, at the best college women's program in the world ... and she threw it away."
Given the success Delle Donne has achieved (in multiple sports) maybe Wolters should send Delle Donne a little apology note and recognize that not everyone has the same aspirations as she did.

Maybe Elena Delle Donne won't win a national championship. OK--she will most likely not win a national championship. But Delaware is nationally ranked and currently undefeated in its conference and likely to earn a trip the tournament. It will give me great pleasure to pick the Blue Hens for a few rounds of upsets.

* He gets a little too feel goody at times; I mean, note the title "Sweetness and Light."

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