Posted: 1:55 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25, 2013
By Andrew Lind
Whether it's his mop-top hairstyle or his personality on twitter, Ohio State's Amedeo Della Valle was a fan favorite even before he stepped foot on campus. Since former bench-warmer turned author Mark Titus graduated, Buckeye Nation has been looking for an underrated, under appreciated player to root for. At 6'5, 190 pounds soaking wet, he doesn't look like much of a basketball player, either, making him easily relatable.
Previous Season Stats: 2.5 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 0.3 APG, 7.2 Minutes, .385 3P%
At only 7 minutes a game, Della Valle was unable to have a game-altering impact in any contest he played. However, there were a number of moments throughout the season, and offseason, that should get Ohio State fans excited for the future. Against Chicago State, Della Valle knocked down a trio of three-pointers on his way to 11 points, but the game was well in hand from the tip. Once the Big Ten slate came along, Della Valle only saw playing time in blowouts, good or bad. In total, Della Valle played in only 15 of the Buckeyes' 37 games.
Over the summer, Della Valle starred for his home country, Italy, in the Under-20 European Championships. In the event, which took place in Tallinn, Estonia, Della Valle led the Italians to the gold metal at the event. After averaging 13 ppg and 3.7 rpg, he was named the tournament's most valuable player.
In the fourth quarter of the tournament's final game, Della Valle scored 13 consecutive points, showing his ability to take over a game. The most memorable moment of the tournament, however, came in the semifinal round. With Italy and Spain tied in the winding seconds, Della Valle drained a step back three-pointer for the win.
It's difficult to project statistics for a guy who only saw significant playing time during the non-conference part of the season. It's just as likely that he has a breakout sophomore campaign as it is that he rides the pine again. Those who wanted to compare Della Valle to the Big Ten's career leader in three pointers, Jon Diebler, will note that Diebler didn't play much as a freshman, either. Over his career, Diebler's stats improved, but he wasn't a sharpshooting threat until his senior season, going from 41.6% as a freshman to 50.2% as a senior.
The next logical step is for Della Valle to become part of Thad Matta's preferred eight-man rotation. While he has all the tools of a sharpshooting guard, he lacked the muscle to fight through screens or man up defensively last season. If he put on some weight in the offseason, he'll be able to handle the physicality of a long season. With a crowded backcourt, as well as the arrival of Kam Williams, it remains to be seen whether he'll be able to crack that rotation or not.
It's possible that Della Valle cracks Matta's rotation, but it's unlikely. With such depth at the guard position, he would have to play the non-conference slate like he did in the U20 World Championships to see significant playing time. Barring unforeseen injuries to those above him on the depth chart, the best case scenario for Della Valle is an increase in minutes, especially during Big Ten play. If he can prove that he can handle the rigors of extended playing time, as well as be a presence on the defensive end, maybe he'll have a chance to start in 2014.
Nothing could be worse than a repeat performance of last season. Della Valle's lack of size hindered him defensively, giving him limited opportunities to show off his offensive skill set. If he's not able to see any playing time, at least we know that books sold by benchwarmers sell.