Former Blue Hen and current Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) Player Elena Delle Donne is coming back to play in a preseason game at her old home, the Bob Carpenter Center Saturday, May 12. The game will include Delle Donne and her Washington Mystics teammates against the Indiana Fever.
This will be Delle Donne’s fifth homecoming game at the university. The first three visits were while she was a member of the Chicago Sky. The last time Delle Donne had a homecoming game was July 2016 when she was part of the U.S. Women’s Basketball team.
As one of Delaware’s most decorated athletes, she started her basketball career just 20 minutes from Delaware’s campus at Ursuline Academy, where she won four state championships.
Delle Donne’s ties to Delaware surpasses sports: the family’s real estate company, Delle Donne Associates, has buildings all throughout New Castle County. It has also been a leader in the development and growth of downtown Wilmington and has another tie to the university as serving as one of the head developers for the university’s STAR campus.
As the number one recruit coming out of high school in 2008, she had an offer from the nation’s top school — the University of Connecticut. At first she accepted the offer, but left after only two days of being there. That decision brought her back home to Delaware.
Delle Donne took almost a year off of basketball. She played a season of volleyball for Delaware before returning to the sport she’s known for. While playing basketball for Delaware, she broke many team records as well as leading the team to its first ever Sweet 16 appearance in the NCAA tournament.
“I never heard of her until I came to Delaware,” Christian Castillo, a university student, said. “Now I understand why she is a big deal here. She was the best player to ever come from Delaware.”
Delle Donne is no longer only a top face for the Blue Hens, but also for women in basketball. After college she went on to become the second overall pick in the 2013 WNBA draft. Since then, she has won rookie of year in 2013, become a four time All-Star, was selected the WNBA’s most valuable player in 2015 and won an Olympic gold medal in 2016.
Saturdays exhibition game serves as a reminder of Delle Donne’s history at Delaware and her stellar basketball career as a Blue Hen.
“I knew she was a great player because I’ve seen her games on TV while watching sports, and she is always brought up when you talk about the new wave of women’s basketball,” Brad Jennings, a Delaware student, said. “But I never knew that her family had many ties to the school besides basketball and the state of Delaware. I’ll be at the game on the 12th because I’ve never seen her play live, so it should be a treat for her to come home and play.”