Amedeo Della Valle: The People's Bomber

By Kyle Rowland on December 18, 2012 at 10:00a
15 Comments

The loudest roars in Value City Arena these days are reserved for Sam Thompson’s gravity-defying dunks. But when a moppy-haired freshman from Italy checks into the game, the buzz in the crowd is noticeable. Then, when Amedeo Della Valle sends a three-pointer through the basket, they erupt with a cheer usually reserved for walk-ons. 

Della Valle's fan club. Or how not to ever hook up in college.The fruits of celebrity. [Via]

“Look at him,” said point guard Aaron Craft, when asked why Della Valle has developed into a fan favorite.

The 6-foot-5 Italian with curly hair that resembles professional golfer Rory McIlroy’s mop-top has the look of a math major instead of a scholarship student-athlete. Don’t let that you fool you, though. Della Valle is an experienced international player and comes to Ohio State from national juggernaut Findlay Prep, located just outside Las Vegas. He moved to the United States in 2011.

Della Valle averaged 15.1 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game in the 2011 U-18 European Championships for Team Italy. In his only season at Findlay Prep, he broke the school record for made 3s in a season with 66. While shooting is what earned Della Valle a scholarship from Ohio State, his potential at being an all-around player contributed. He averaged 15 points, 6.0 assists and 4.0 steals per game at Findlay.

With a father, Carlo, that played 15 seasons professionally in Italy, it’s no surprise that Della Valle took a liking to basketball at a young age. That he journeyed from Alba, a city near the Mediterranean Sea, to Nevada before ultimately ending up at Ohio State was not on the radar.

But Della Valle is pleased with how the itinerary unfolded.

“I love it here,” he said. “I love playing with these guys. I think we have a great group of people. The great thing is we’re getting better every day.”

The tagline goes, “recruiting is about relationships.” Well, now Ohio State has established a relationship with Findlay Prep, which could literally be referred to as a basketball factory. The school has produced six McDonald’s All-Americans and 24 Findlay players are currently on Division I rosters. Tristan Thompson and Avery Bradley are among the program’s alumni.

Della Valle finds himself on a top-10 team, averaging 2.3 points on the way to chipping in 14 points on the season. Twelve of those have come on three-pointers. He’s played in six of the Buckeyes’ nine games, but that hasn’t diminished the big picture thinking for Della Valle.

“Maybe it’s not being ready today, but being ready for next year and the year after,” he said. “Every day in practice, you just have to work hard and get better with those guys because we all compete.”

Despite spending the first 17 years of his life in Italy and only one in the U.S., Della Valle assimilated easily into college life. It’s not just the fans that he’s popular with, but it’s also his teammates.

The Italian is fitting in nicely in ColumbusDella Valle is getting this Buckeye thing nicely. [Via]

Craft, for one, respects the level of difficulty Della Valle went through. There was no multiplayer recruiting class he developed relationships with – it was a one-man show. Not to mention, the unfamiliarity with a new country. But Della Valle took a leap of faith and felt Ohio State was the right place for him, in part because of his recruiting trip that Craft, Thompson and Evan Ravenel hosted. Once Della Valle’s mother came stateside and the two talked about his college choices, he signed on the dotted line to become a Buckeye.

“That’s a tough situation to be in, especially in the summer when you’re living by yourself and there aren’t a lot of freshmen on campus,” Craft said. “But he wanted to be a part of this team, and I think as a whole we did a good job of inviting him to things and letting him see what it is like.”

Head coach Thad Matta liked the shooting ability Della Valle exhibited at Findlay along with a high basketball IQ and sound fundamentals. Della Valle also brings the brains. He carried a 4.0 grade-point average at Findlay.

“As I’ve said all along, he’s very smart in terms of knowing what he needs,” Matta said. “I give him credit. He’s a lot tougher than he may appear on the surface. He gets up and keeps going after guys. Therefore, I’m seeing more and more of how well he’s playing.”

The hardest thing, according to Della Valle, is being that only player unfamiliar with the system. When he messes up in practice, he’s generally on an island by himself. He can’t be saved by another freshman’s mistake.

One look at him and you also can tell he’s never touched a weight. A scrawny shooter who stays out on the perimeter as much as possible, Della Valle said he never lifted anything until he arrived at Ohio State. Upon hearing that, strength coach Dave Richardson was left smiling.

“Being the only freshman in the program when he came in last year, everybody knew the lifts,” Matta said. “Everybody knew how to do it and what to do. We’ve been doing a lot of extra with Amedeo. Even on game day, he's getting extra lifting in, not massive stuff.

“That’s probably his biggest adjustment – just the strength and physicality of practice, drill after drill after drill.”

The immediate void Della Valle can fill is that of a three-point specialist. Last season, the Buckeyes three-point shooting was one of the areas lacking the most. Ohio State shot just 33.4 percent from beyond the arc. It has risen to 40 percent this season.

Della Valle has converted on 4 of his 12 attempts. He’s only averaging 8.5 minutes per game, but he could see time during the Big Ten season if Ohio State is in need of a long-range shot or a quick infusion of offense. One thing is certain: his entry into the game will liven up the crowd.

“I love it,” Della Valle said. “Honestly, I love the fans, and they love me. I don’t know why. I get the ball at half court and they yell at me to shoot it. I really can’t do that.”

15 Comments

Comments

bhartman13's picture

Amedio seems like a great kid who will work hard each year to refine his craft.  The Buckeyes could use another Diebler type shooter moving forward and if Amedio can develop and get better in other areas I would think Matta will put him on the court in the upcoming years.  He hasn't been spectacular in limited time this season and probably won't get much playing time once conference play hits, but it is still nice to know there is a 3 point specialist on the roster.  Della Valle is someone who will contribute more as an upperclassman but is already a fan favorite which should only make him feel more welcome in Columbus.  Also you gotta love the hair!!

BuckeyeJim's picture

Will he be the next 3 point shooter we need? Amethreeo or Ametrio, I hope be becomes that outside threat that we need.

d5k's picture

Nice, although AmeTrey-o fits the (correct) pronunciation of his name better :).

Jugdish's picture

I gave you an upvote for that. All sound good to me.

Remember to get your wolverine spayed or neutered. TBDBITL

Jhesse17's picture

I'm probably going to get downvoted for saying this but I reaaly think people (conciously or unconciously) like this guy because he's white. Look at all the beloved benchwarmers. Brian Scalabrine, Luke Walton, Mark Titus, and Della Valle are all famous and loved despite the fact that they totally blow. And what's the one thing they all have in common? They are allwhite guys.

bhartman13's picture

While this is a legit possiblity I don't think it pertains to Amedio.  The Buckeyes have had their share of talented white guys on the roster in recent memory and after the shooting display Diebler put on as a Junior and Senior I believe fans are hoping Della Valle can become that type of player after a few years of developing.  Also the big hair and cool attitude doesn't hurt his popularity!

tennbuckeye19's picture

I'm not gonna downvote you, but seriously, your comment is stupid. The fact that those guys are white has nothing to do with it. I'm guessing you don't follow basketball much, cause Luke Walton was a pretty good player @ Arizona in college, and him and Scalabrine wouldn't be in the NBA if they "blew". Mark Titus was popular because he made a big deal out of himself and became a fan favorite. And how can you say whether or not Della Valle will be a great player? He's a freakin freshman who's only played like a third of his first college season. 
 

Jhesse17's picture

I live in boston, so I know for a fact that Brian Scalabrine had a once a week piece on 98.5 the sports hub called "White Boy Wednesday" which I believe they still do now with someone else on the Celtics. And name a black fan favorite that rerely played. Or explain why Cam Newton's accuracy was constantly in question leading up to the draft and Blaine Gabbert's never was, despite the fact that Cam had a higher completion percentage, almost double Gabbert's touchdowns, and less interceptions. Racism is still prevalent in sports, and I think it's sad.

tennbuckeye19's picture

I didn't say racism doesn't still exist in sports. It does. And yes it is sad. But your comment about the reason people like Della Valle BECAUSE he's white was off-base. I'm pretty sure it could be his hair or maybe that he's Italian, and not just cause he's white. 
How about people liked Scalabrine because he has a funny name or because he's got red hair? Or maybe they like Luke Walton because his dad is Bill Walton? 
What do Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert have to do with basketball? 

Jhesse17's picture

I just used Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert because it was an easy display of sports racism. And maybe we like Della Valle for other reasons as well. But when was the last time you saw an article about a black benchwarmer?

Buckeye Chuck's picture

I don't think Della Valle is exactly comparable, because he's a freshman and a legitimate recruit. While he's not doing much now, there's legitimate hope he can be something more than a garbage time player eventually.
But it's certainly true that these "fan benchwarmer cults" in basketball almost always develop around white guys (Mark Madsen was another recent example from the NBA, though he was a very good player at Stanford). The average fan in the stands is probably going to relate to the player at the end of the bench who seems the most of place, and given a choice between Della Valle and Trey McDonald (the previous scholarship freshman who rarely played), who do you think he's going to pick?
 

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AC1972's picture

Della Valle still plays like a high-school kid (although a pretty good one).  He's going to need time.  Fortunately he has time and sounds like a good bit of maturity and work ethic. 
When Diebler came in, everyone expected him to be dropping trey's right off the bat, and he struggled a bit mentally his first couple of years.  The expectations on Jon where too great right at the begining of his career.
Della Valle won't have that kind of pressure, he will feel acceptance and less pressure to produce early.  His last couple of years he might even be better than Diebler if he works hard.

D. Anthony's picture

"...I am your father"

D. Anthony

Syrabuck21's picture

That's pretty awesome right there!

LouGroza's picture

Wow what a resemblance. A little photoshop work on Amedeo to achieve that receding hairline would be a hoot. Then they would be identical. Or go the other way and give the other guy a full head of hair.