Photo courtesy of Wendell Cruz/Finish First Photos
By David Cordova
Over the years, the Dominican Republic has fast risen as a country that produces basketball players. In a country known for baseball, the hardwood has become the next best thing. And there are players around the United States that were born or raised in the Dominican or are of Dominican descent.
The very first prominent player from that country was Felipe Lopez, who was the No. 1 high school player in the country in 1994, and made it on the cover of Sports Illustrated that fall before playing a college game at St. John’s University, where he would play for four years and score 1,927 points for the Red Storm before spending four seasons in the NBA with three teams.
Two other prominent Dominican ballplayers were Francisco Garcia, who led Louisville to a Final Four appearance in 2005 and would play 11 seasons in the NBA, and Charlie Villanueva, who led UConn to a national championship in 2004 and later played 11 seasons in the NBA with four teams.
In the present day, prominent Dominican hoopsters in the NBA are none other than: Al Horford (Boston Celtics), Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota Timberwolves) and Luis Montero, who plays for the Sacramento Kings’ NBA G-League affiliate, the Reno Bighorns.
But one player from the Dominican that has taken the world by storm on the college level as of late, has been Angel Delgado. The 6-foot-10 power forward was a walking double-double whenever he stepped foot on the court for the Seton Hall Pirates. His ability to dominate the game on the boards and in the low post on offense made him one of the most elite forwards in the Big East and throughout the country.
“We just gotta play hard, and everybody will happy and enjoy the game. That’s how you win games and prepare for every game.” said Delgado, when asked about what motivates him to be successful on the hardwood.
Delgado hails from Bajos de Haina, a town that is 40 minutes away from the national’s capital, Santo Domingo. When asked about being from his country, he replied, “It’s been great being from D.R., I love my country. I always love to go there.”
When asked about the basketball culture in the Dominican, he replied, “It’s good, it’s good. [There’s] a lot of kids trying to make a dream [come true]. And that’s why, once you get an opportunity, you just have to make it out.”
Delgado first emigrated to the United States at the age of 16 in 2012. Like many kids in a new place, he was homesick and timid of his new surroundings in a foreign country. When asked if it was a culture shock being in the States, he replied, “Of course, I didn’t know no English or none of that, so it was kind of hard [for] the first time. But I learned English really fast, so that was the good thing about me and I got into real fast.”
On the AAU circuit, he played with the New York Lightning on the Nike EYBL circuit, averaging 13.2 points and 11.6 rebounds per game, to go with 1.6 blocks. He earned invites to prestigious camps, such as the NBA Top 100 Camp and the LeBron James Skills Academy.
On the high school scene, he first started out at Huntington Prep, a powerhouse in Huntington, West Virginia, but then transferred up north to The Patrick School in Elizabeth, New Jersey. As a senior, he averaged 12.8 points and 4.7 rebounds in 24 games for the Celtics, as they went 23-6 and made it to the South Jersey, Non-Public B title game.
When asked about his experience at The Patrick School, Delgado replied, “It was good, Patrick School was one of the best decisions I took. You go there, it got great coaches, I’m really proud of being [an alumnus of that school).”
He would finish ranked as the No. 48 player in the Class of 2014 by ESPN and played in the Jordan Brand Classic Regional game at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, where he had a strong outing, with 17 points and 11 rebounds.
He was coveted by some big-time programs, but in August 2013, he would commit to Seton Hall. When asked about his decision to play for the Pirates, he replied, “Seton Hall is kind of my home. It’s my home right now. It’s the best decision I ever take, I’m close to home and I like to see my family every single game and that’s one of the big parts of [why I love it].”
Delgado also played for a great coach in Pirates head coach Kevin Willard. When asked about his relationship with the coach, he replied, “Kevin Willard is like my dad. He loves his players, he just do what he gotta do to win and he’s the best coach I ever met.”
In his four seasons at The Hall, he helped lead the Pirates to an 84-48 record, three NCAA appearances, and a Big East championship in 2016. Along the way, he became the Big East’s all-time leader in rebounds with 1,455, is 16th on the all-time list of players with over 1,000 points, as he scored 1,593 points in his four seasons.
When asked about his four years as a whole as a Pirate, he replied, “It was great. I think everything I did, it was for a reason, I worked hard, I did everything I was supposed to do, that’s why I played so good in these past four years.”
He was also a part of the 2016 Big East championship team, which beat Villanova, to win their first conference tournament title since 1993. When asked about that team, which finished 25-9, he replied, “It was great. We had a great team, we did everything we were supposed to do to win that championship.”
During the summertime, you can always catch Delgado playing at the famed Dyckman Tournament in the Inwood section of Manhattan, New York, playing for Dominican Power, a well-known squad in the city’s street ball circles. When asked about playing for a team that represents his native country on the New York asphalt, he replied, “It was great. It’s the summer league, I just like to play with my guys, and it’s a great experience out there.”
Most recently, on April 6th, his hard work paid off as Delgado was named the winner of the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award, given to the best center in the nation.
Now that his college career has come to an end, you can expect to see him playing in pre-draft camps, such as the Portsmouth Invitational in Portsmouth, Virgnia, this weekend, and also the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, Illinois on May 16-20.
The hard work that he put in will show that he is pro-level material. But when asked how he wanted to his legacy be remembered at Seton Hall, he replied, “As a tough guy, that’s how I want to be remembered all the time.”
And as for the future, “Just to live the dream. Go to the NBA, try to go to the NBA, and be the best player that I can be.”
Highlights of Angel Delgado:
Courtesy of Sports On The Side.
Courtesy of Ballas TV.
Courtesy of NextUp Recruits.
Courtesy of NCAA March Madness.
Courtesy of Big East Conference.
Courtesy of FOX Sports.
Courtesy of FOX Sports.
Courtesy of Big East Conference.