WILMINGTON – Adrianna Hahn and Donte DiVincenzo both have a state basketball championship, more than 1,000 points scored and numerous highlight videos on YouTube. And when they graduate in a few months, both will be playing college basketball in the Big East Conference at Villanova University.
But despite the similarities, Hahn and DiVincenzo are two unique people who have gone through high school under different circumstances. They sat down at Salesianum recently to chat about their high school accomplishments and what lies ahead. Both have earned scholarships to Villanova– just a coincidence, they said.
“She committed first,” DiVincenzo said.
Hahn said they thought it would be ironic if the pair ended up at the same university, but she had no idea where DiVincenzo was going when she made her choice. No one did except his parents and brother. Even DiVincenzo’s coach at Salesianum, Brendan Haley, did not find out until the day before.
“We were going up there (to Villanova) to practice, and I had told Coach Haley the day before,” DiVincenzo recalled. “He said it would be good to do it as our team last year was going up there to practice, co I committed in front of everybody up there.”
The announcement was a pleasant surprise for all involved, including Villanova coach Jay Wright. Hahn said she found out the same way the public did.
“A week before, he was like, ‘I’m not committing for another year,’ and then all of a sudden I see on Twitter, ‘Donte commits to Villanova.’ That’s pretty much how it happened,” she said.
Hahn said Villanova was just one of the schools that looked at both players. She decided on the Main Line school in part because it is close to her north Wilmington home, so her friends, family and coaches can come watch her play. DiVincenzo said he was down to Syracuse and Villanova, and when he weighed the positives and negatives of each, Villanova emerged as the place for him.
“My mom and dad can come up whenever and take me out to dinner,” he joked.
Future in basketball
When he arrived at Salesianum from Brandywine Springs Middle School, basketball wasn’t even DiVincenzo’s first sport. He had played basketball for Corpus Christi’s Catholic Youth Ministry program, but he was a better soccer player. By the time he reached high school, however, he knew his future was on the court, not the pitch.
“I was kind of worried about not being able to make the basketball team. But then after I made varsity as a freshman, I realized I could have a future in basketball,” he said.
Hahn also played soccer as a youngster, but hoops was always her first love. She played CYM ball for St. Helena’s and Immaculate Heart of Mary before transferring to Ursuline before seventh grade. After one more year in CYM, she made the high school varsity as an eighth-grader, where her impact was immediate.
She could feel the pressure to win at Ursuline, which had grown accustomed to deep playoff runs. Another championship seemed possible in her eighth-grade year, 2010-11, but in a state quarterfinal matchup at the Bob Carpenter Center, Hahn tore her anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee when she was fouled violently. Another Raiders starter was injured when she was punched, and Ursuline lost in the semifinals.
That experience left a sour taste at Ursuline and motivated the team the next year.
“What happened my eighth-grade year was just a bad environment, and how we lost, it just brought us down as a team,” she recalled. “The next year, we just wanted to come back out strong and really show the other teams what we had.”
It worked, as the Raiders won the 2012 state championship with a convincing win over Sanford School.
DiVincenzo also was driven to win a state title, but the Sals could not get over the hump his freshman and sophomore years. Last season, with a deep and experienced roster, the Sals finally cut down the nets at the Carpenter Center, defeating St. Georges Tech, 50-45. It was the school’s first state championship in basketball, the last sport without a banner on the gymnasium wall.
“A big weight lifted off our shoulders” is how DiVincenzo described the win. “A lot of people say this isn’t a basketball school and all that stuff. We’d never won a championship. But we’ve had great players and great teams here. We were just never able to put it together and win a championship. And then last year was a great feeling, kind of like giving back to everybody else who hadn’t been able to do it.”
As Hahn and DiVincenzo collected points – both have passed 1,000 in their careers – and accolades, the buzz about their future picked up. Both were recruited by multiple major college programs. Hahn said the coaches that stood out to her were the ones who came to watch her games even if it was an AAU tournament at 8 in the morning. She was looking for a school that was as interested in her as she was in them.
She described the recruiting process as “hectic,” particularly as the day arrived when coaches could contact her. “I got calls at midnight. It was insane.” Also, for several weeks, she would work out at Ursuline for college coaches, who would then visit her home for dinner.
Hahn – who has passed on her knowledge to young players at camps run by her coach, John Noonan – will likely study business at Villanova and wants to take basketball as far as she can. Hahn is willing to go overseas to play if that is where the opportunity lies. DiVincenzo, who is undecided on a major, has thought about the possibility of playing beyond college, but right now his focus is on the rest of this high school season and leaving the Salesianum program in better shape than it was when he started.
“I’ve had countless opportunities here. Not just sports, but extracurriculars, good academics, I’ve got a lot of good friends,” he said. “All the support here, from the faculty to the students, everything’s been great here.”
That includes losing at bocce ball to children at A.I. DuPont Hospital for Children, where he does community service.
Before they travel up the Blue Route this summer, both players have business to attend to in Delaware. It involves getting back to the Bob Carpenter Center in early March. Salesianum, with three new starters this season, has faced perhaps the toughest schedule in the state.
Five of those games came against tough out-of-state foes, including highly regarded St. Vincent-St. Mary of Akron, Ohio, and Martin Luther King of Philadelphia. They also play Delaware’s best, including Sanford. This will only help the team, DiVincenzo said.
“For the rest of the year I want to give everything to my teammates because they give everything to me,” he said. “Try to get them ready for the playoffs because we’re playing these tough games, and sometimes we get down on ourselves looking at the scoreboard. People don’t realize we’re playing a St. Vincent-St. Mary’s, we’re playing MLK. In Delaware we really don’t have that.”
Hahn has a similar outlook for her top-ranked Raiders, who also have loaded up on out-of-state games and several strong Delaware teams in addition to their Catholic Conference opponents. Ursuline is looking to advance beyond the state semifinals, where the Raiders have lost to rival St. Elizabeth the last two seasons.
“We know that we should not have let that happen,” she said. “So we’re prepared and experienced with that loss in such a big game. That’s what really motivates us this year. You know we’re not big, so rebounding offensively and defensively is tough for us. But we want to try and push the ball more, transition better. We’re working on that.”