Elena Delle Donne: Delaware’s greatest athlete
A year ago I wrote an article asking the question “Is Elena Delle Donne the best player to ever come out of Delaware?”
Now that a year has passed, I think it’s time to say Elena Delle Donne, without a question, is the greatest player to ever come out of Delaware athletics.
On Thursday, she and the Washington Mystics won their first WNBA Championship, the first in Delle Donne’s career. It was a historic year for her. Now she is a six-time all-star, won her second career WNBA Most Valuable Player Award, became a four-time All-WNBA First Team member and became the first WNBA player to join the 50-40-90 club, which is shooting over 50% field goal percentage, over 40% three-point percentage, and over 90% free throw percentage.
Throughout that incredible year, Delle Donne played with injuries. In the WNBA finals, she played with three herniated disks in her back and a broken nose. Even with those injuries, she had 21 points ,nine rebounds and two assists in the Mystics win on Thursday.
Delle Donne’s basketball accomplishments throughout her playing career are just incredible. First you have to talk about where it started with her playing at Ursuline Academy in Wilmington, where she was a three-time Gatorade Player of the Year in Delaware. Out of high school she was ranked no. 1 in the ESPN 100 for the Class of 2008.
She then came to the university and became a three-time CAA Player of the Year, and Delle Donne is the all-time leading scorer in Delaware basketball history.
She is also the school leader in three-point field goal percentage and blocks. As a senior, Delle Donne averaged 26 points (2nd in nation) and eight and a half rebounds.
In the 2013 NCAA tournament, she became the ninth player in women’s NCAA history to score over 3,000 career points.
Delle Donne went on to be selected by the Chicago Sky with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2013 draft.
Not to mention her winning a gold medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics (and could win another in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with Team USA).
Last year, I said: “Delle Donne has between 5-10 years left of professional basketball if she can stay healthy. In that time, she could break WNBA records and win quite a few WNBA championships as well. She may even be the first person born and raised in Delaware to go into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.”
I think it’s time to change that and say she will be the first person born and raised in Delaware to go into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Her legacy isn’t finished yet, but the amount of success she has had in such little time is unbelievable. She played high school basketball in Delaware and was the best player in the state for over three years. She stayed home and continued to play basketball for the university and led them to heights the Blues Hens hadn’t yet seen.
Even though now she is a basketball superstar, what I appreciate about Delle Donne is that she doesn’t forget where she came. She visits Delaware every offseason, spending her time training at her former high school, Ursuline Academy, during the winter. She also runs fundraisers and basketball camps during the offseason to give back to the community.
There are plenty of professional athletes that are from Delaware currently. Maybe one of them can surpass the legacy of Delle Donne in their sporting career, but will be a tough task to do with Delle Donne being in my mind, one of the greatest female basketball players ever.