Elena Delle Donne
Delle Donne at the 2014 World Basketball Festival
|No. 11 – Washington Mystics|
|Position||Shooting guard / Small forward|
September 5, 1989 |
|Listed height||6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)|
|Listed weight||187 lb (85 kg)|
|High school||Ursuline Academy
|WNBA draft||2013 / Round: 1 / Pick: 2nd overall|
|Selected by the Chicago Sky|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Stats at WNBA.com|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
- 1 Early life
- 2 High school career
- 3 College career
- 4 WNBA career
- 5 Overseas career
- 6 International career
- 7 Personal life
- 8 Endorsement deals
- 9 Statistics
- 10 Awards and honors
- 11 References
- 12 External links
The daughter of a real estate developer and his wife, Delle Donne inherited her 6'5" (1.96 m) height from both her parents—her father, who played college golf, is 6'6" (1.98 m), and her mother is 6'2" (1.88 m). Her childhood was marked by a struggle to come to terms with her unusual height. According to a 2016 ESPN story, her first memory was going on a shopping trip when she was 3 years old and hearing other shoppers tell her mother that an 8-year-old should not be using a pacifier. In third grade, her class was assigned to measure themselves using lengths of paper; she "was humiliated" when her paper extended well beyond those of her classmates. Within two years of that incident, a doctor wanted to start her on injections to stunt her growth; her mother refused. By the time she was in eighth grade, she was already 6'0" (1.83 m). Additionally, according to the same ESPN piece, Delle Donne had to come to terms with having "a body that could do a great many things that the body of her older sister, Lizzie, couldn't." Lizzie was born deaf and blind, is unable to speak, and also has cerebral palsy and autism. In another 2016 ESPN story, Delle Donne credits her mother with helping her accept her height:
She's 6-2 and my dad is 6-6, so she understood. She was like, "I'm telling you, one day you are going to realize how beautiful your height is." She would always tell me how unique I am and say, "Why try to be like the rest of the pack? Be your own person."
High school career
Delle Donne gained national recognition as a high school basketball star at Ursuline Academy in Wilmington, Delaware. She led Ursuline to three straight Delaware State Championship titles and was ranked as the number-one overall high school recruit by Scout.com as well as a McDonald's All-American. She was the first and only student at Ursuline so far to score 2,000+ points during her high school career and also set the girls' high school national record for consecutive free throws made (80) in 2005–2006.
She also participated in volleyball. Delle Donne won the volleyball DIAA state championship with Ursuline in 2007. She posted a season high 20 kills against Padua during a game involving the number one and two teams in the state.
Following an outstanding prep career during which she became the most highly touted women's basketball recruit since Candace Parker, Delle Donne received a basketball scholarship from the University of Connecticut. However, in early June 2008, Delle Donne abruptly dropped out of Connecticut's summer school program after just two days in Storrs. Delle Donne was very close to her family, especially her older sister, Lizzie, who has cerebral palsy and is blind and deaf. She was not ready to be separated from her family. Gene, Elena's brother and the middle child of the Delle Donne family, would say in a 2012 ESPN story on his younger sister:
"Her relationship with Lizzie is huge. It's so close. It's a big reason why she is such a homebody who came home from UConn, because she craves to be around Lizzie and to experience Lizzie grabbing her and sniffing her and just spend quality time with her."
A week after leaving Connecticut, Delle Donne said by telephone from her home in Wilmington that she has "a lot of personal issues to fix. Only my family understands what's going on. Right now I am going to take a long personal break." She took a similar break prior to the 2007–08 season in high school.
On August 16, 2008, Delle Donne announced she would not accept the scholarship due to burnout, and instead decided to enroll at the University of Delaware and join their volleyball team as a walk-on. She played middle hitter at UD for the 2008–09 season. The 2008 Delaware Blue Hens finished their season with a record of 19–16. They were 9–5 in their conference (Colonial Athletic Association) and won the conference tournament. They earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament, but lost to Oregon in the first round. Delle Donne did not continue on the volleyball team in 2009, but joined the basketball team.
On June 2, 2009, Delle Donne announced that she would play basketball for the Blue Hens in the 2009–10 season as a redshirt freshman. In 2012, ESPN writer Graham Hays said about her return to the sport "it cannot be complete coincidence that it came the year Gene returned to Delaware and went to work for his dad's company." In a 2016 interview with ESPN, Delle Donne also recalled a trip she took during the summer of 2009 to the school that Lizzie was attending. While there, she met another woman at the school, a basketball fan who used a wheelchair due to cerebral palsy, who told her, "Elena, do everything you can with your abilities, just like we do."
Delle Donne had a very productive freshman season. She averaged 26.7 points per game, the third-highest of all Division I women's basketball players. She scored 54 points in a loss against James Madison on February 18, 2010, which was the highest single-game point total by any Division I female basketball player that season. She was named the CAA Rookie of the Week six times, and the player of the week once during 2009–10.
She was voted the CAA's "Player of the Year" and "Rookie of the Year" in women's basketball by CAA coaches, sports information directors and media. This was the first time a player had won both awards in one year since Old Dominion's Lucienne Berthieu did so in 1999. No men's player has ever won both awards in the same season.
In her sophomore season, the team started off well, but then Delle Donne began to develop flu-like symptoms. In a game against Penn State, she asked to be taken out of the game, something she had never done before. After many tests, the doctors finally diagnosed her with Lyme disease. She struggled the rest of the season, but she helped her team reach the finals of the conference tournament and an invitation to the Women's NIT.
As a junior, Delle Donne led the nation in scoring, finishing the season with an average of 28.1 points per game. Her prowess attracted many fans to the Blue Hens games, with attendance rising 250 percent from the previous year. On February 16, 2012, Delle Donne scored 42 points in a win over Hofstra, eclipsing the 2,000 point mark for her career. Delaware were the CAA champions, qualifying for the 2012 NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Tournament. Delle Donne scored 39 out of the Blue Hens' first 56 points in their round 1 victory over UALR. Delaware would lead by halftime against Kansas in the next game, but despite Delle Donne's 34 points, the Jayhawks still won.
During the 2012–13 season, Delle Donne again fought Lyme disease, missing four games due to the illness. Delle Donne returned on December 12 against Maryland and led the team with 19 points and 6 rebounds in a 69–53 loss. This game was the largest crowd (5,089) to ever to see a women's basketball game at the Bob Carpenter Center, the Blue Hens' homecourt.
Delle Donne led her team in scoring in 22 regular season games during her senior season, as well as in rebounds in 12 games. She scored more than 30 points on five occasions, leading her team to a 27–3 regular season record entering CAA conference tournament play.
After winning the CAA conference tournament, the Blue Hens were seeded 6th in their region of the 2013 NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Tournament. Delle Donne led them to victories over #11 West Virginia and #3 North Carolina. The Blue Hens then lost to #2 Kentucky, despite Delle Donne's 33 points.
Following her collegiate career, Delle Donne was selected second overall in the 2013 WNBA Draft by the Chicago Sky, a team that went 14–20 in the 2012 season. She was one of twelve players to be invited to the event. Delle Donne scored 22 points in her debut against fellow rookie Brittney Griner and the Phoenix Mercury. The Sky went on to win the game, 102-80. She led all players in votes for the 2013 WNBA All-Star Game, the first time a rookie has done so in league history. She missed the game, however, due to a concussion. After the All-Star break, Delle Donne returned to action, and continued to play at a high level. The Sky qualified for the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, earning the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Delle Donne was rewarded with the 2013 Rookie of the Year award.
The 2014 regular season had Delle Donne playing only 16 games due to a flare-up of Lyme disease, averaging less than 19 minutes in the final seven games. Eventually she rose up during the playoffs, helping the Sky defeat the Atlanta Dream in the first round, scoring 34 points and a game winning shot with 8.2 seconds left as the Sky erased a 17-point deficit with 8:12 remaining in the deciding game. However, Delle Donne was elbowed while going for a rebound in the Atlanta series, suffering a back injury that reduced her play time in the following round against the Indiana Fever. The Sky still got to the WNBA finals, where they lost to the Phoenix Mercury. Delle Donne played only 10 minutes in the first game, before taking medication to play 68 minutes and score 45 points over the final two games.
On September 16, 2015, Delle Donne was named the WNBA MVP for the 2015 season. She scored a league-high 23.4 points per game, shot a career-high 95% from the free throw line and was ranked third in rebounding. She received 38 of 39 first place votes. During the regular season, Delle Donne scored a career-high 45 points in an overtime win against the Atlanta Dream, while making a WNBA record, 19 consecutive free throws.
In the 2016 season, Delle Donne averaged 21.5 ppg helping the Sky to another playoff berth as they finished 18-16. With the WNBA's new playoff format in effect, the Sky were the number 4 seed in the league with a bye to the second round. Unfortunately, Delle Donne had suffered an injury on her right thumb in a loss to the Washington Mystics. Delle Donne would have season-ending surgery that would also keep her out for the playoffs. Delle Donne played 28 games in the season before the injury. Without Delle Donne, the Sky still had a decent playoff run, advancing to the semifinals (the last round before the WNBA finals) where they lost 3-1 to the Los Angeles Sparks who would win the championship.
With Delle Donne approaching restricted free agent status and her rookie contract expiring, she was traded to the Washington Mystics in exchange for Stefanie Dolson, Kahleah Copper and the second overall pick in the 2017 WNBA draft just a couple days before the start of free agency.
Unlike the vast majority of WNBA players, Delle Donne has not normally played overseas, choosing instead to spend the traditional basketball season in the U.S. to help care for her sister, Lizzie. Her first experience in an overseas league did not come until 2017, when she signed a short-term deal to play with the Chinese team Shanxi in that league's playoffs. Her stay in China prematurely ended when a flare-up of Lyme disease forced her to return to the U.S.
During her college days, Delle Donne was selected to the 2011 USA Basketball Team for the World University Games played August 12–23 in Shenzhen, China. Delle Donne led the team to a gold medal with a perfect 6–0 record and averaged 15.7 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists. In the Championship game won by the USA 101–66 over Taiwan, Delle Donne scored 18 points on 8–14 shooting and led the team with 11 rebounds and 8 assists.
On April 27, 2016, Della Donne was named to the 2016 United States team that competed at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. During the U.S. team's eighth gold medal campaign, she was a role player, starting off the bench in seven games and sitting out the game against China due to an eye injury received during practice. The U.S. team would win the gold medal as they defeated Spain 101-72. Delle Donne is the sixth gold medalist hailing from Delaware.
Delle Donne was born in Wilmington, Delaware. Her parents are Ernie, a real estate developer, and Joanie. Her older brother, Gene, played college football as a tight end, first at Duke, then at Middle Tennessee. After he graduated from Middle Tennessee in 2009, he returned to Delaware to work in their father's company. Her older sister, Elizabeth (Lizzie), is blind, deaf, autistic and has cerebral palsy. While most WNBA players use the offseason to play for other leagues overseas, Delle Donne normally uses it to care for Lizzie.
In 2008, during her senior year in high school, Delle Donne was diagnosed with Lyme disease after being bitten by an infected tick on the property of her family's home in Delaware. Delle Donne has stated that she takes "around 50 supplements a day" and maintains healthy eating to combat this disease.
In February 2014, Delle Donne was named a Special Olympics Global Ambassador. She also played in the 3rd annual NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified Basketball Game during All-Star weekend, alongside Special Olympics athletes, NBA legends and current WNBA and NBA players. Delle Donne plans to create The Elena Delle Donne Charitable Foundation, which will combine initiatives for both the Special Olympics and Lyme disease awareness.
Delle Donne made her first public acknowledgement of her sexuality after an article that appeared in the August 2016 issue of Vogue mentioned her engagement to her longtime girlfriend Amanda Clifton.
Since being drafted in the WNBA, Delle Donne has signed multiple endorsement deals with different companies. In 2013, Delle Donne signed endorsement deals with Nike, Wasserman Media Group and DuPont, a science company which is based in her hometown Wilmington, Delaware. In 2015, Delle Donne signed an endorsement deal with Octagon.
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game||RPG||Rebounds per game|
|APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game||BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game|
|TO||Turnovers per game||FG%||Field-goal percentage||3P%||3-point field-goal percentage||FT%||Free-throw percentage|
|Bold||Career high||League leader|
|Career||4 years, 1 team||114||111||34.9||.481||.409||.910||8.9||1.9||1.0||2.3||1.8||26.7|
WNBA regular season
|Career||3 years, 1 team||14||14||32.1||.475||.375||.952||4.0||1.7||0.4||1.5||17.6|
Awards and honors
- 2004 – USA Today Freshman All-America, Nike All-America Camp, Street & Smith Preseason All-America Honorable Mention, All-State First Team
- 2005 – Scut/FCP SUPER SIX, Parade All-America Fourth Team, EA Sports All-America, Gatorade Delaware Player of the Year, DSBA Delaware Player of the Year, Street & Smith All-American Third Team, All-State First Team 2005
- 2006 – Slam Magazine All-American First Team, Women's Basketball Magazine All-American First Team, Parade All-American First Team, Sports Illustrated All-American Second Team, EA Sports All-American, USA Today All-American Third Team, Gatorade State Player of the Year, All-State First Team 2006
- 2007 – Parade All-American Third Team, Gatorade State Player of the Year, First-ever cover subject of GIRL magazine
- 2008 – McDonald's All-American Team, USA Today National Player of the Year and First Team All-America, Naismith Prep Player of the Year, Gatorade National Player of the Year, EA Sports Player of the Year, Delaware Athlete of the Year
- 2010 – AP All-American Honorable Mention, CAA Player of the Year, CAA All-Defensive Team, CAA All-Rookie Team, CAA All-Tournament Team, Delaware Athlete of the Year
- 2011 – AP and WBCA All-American Third Team, All-CAA First Team, CAA All-Tournament Team
- 2012 – AP, WBCA, Wooden, and USBWA All-American First Team, CAA Player of the Year, CAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player, Delaware Athlete of the Year
- 2013 – AP, WBCA, Wooden, and USBWA All-American First Team, CAA Player of the Year, CAA All-Defensive Team, CAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player, UD Outstanding Female Senior Athlete, WNBA Rookie of the Year, All-WNBA Second Team
- 2013 – Winner of the Honda Sports Award for basketball
- 2015 – WNBA Most Valuable Player, All-WNBA First Team, scoring champion
- 2016 - Nominee for ESPYS Best Female Athlete award 
- 2010 – CAA All-Academic First Team
- 2011 – CAA All-Academic First Team
- 2012 – Academic All-America Team, CAA Scholar-Athlete of the Year, CAA All-Academic First Team
- 2013 – Academic All-America Team, Senior CLASS Award, CAA Scholar-Athlete of the Year, CAA All-Academic First Team
- 2014 – NCAA Today's Top 10 Award
- Hays, Graham (December 5, 2012). "Comfort Zone". espnW. Retrieved December 5, 2012.
- Brodesser-Akner, Taffy (November 22, 2016). "The Audacity of Height". ESPN.com. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
- Ain, Morty (July 6, 2016). "Delle Donne on battling Lyme disease and her biggest inspiration". ESPN The Magazine. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
- "Women's Basketball Recruiting". Girlshoops.scout.com. Retrieved April 17, 2013.
- "Delle Donne happy to be back". ESPN. October 16, 2009. Retrieved February 21, 2010.
- "WBCA High School All-America Game Box Scores". Women's Basketball Coaches Association. Archived from the original on July 15, 2014. Retrieved June 29, 2014.
- "WBCA High School All-America Game Team MVP's". Women's Basketball Coaches Association. Archived from the original on July 15, 2014. Retrieved June 29, 2014.
- Farnum, Amy (December 26, 2011). "Delle Donne back to superstar form". NCAA. Retrieved December 28, 2011.
- Schwarz, Mark (June 11, 2008). "Nation's top recuit says break is 'deeper than basketball'". ESPN. Retrieved April 17, 2013.
- Nelson, Glenn (July 6, 2007). "Recruiting pressure forces Delle Donne to take hiatus". ESPN. Retrieved April 17, 2013.
- Greenberg, Mel (August 25, 2008). "Della Donne Admits Basketball 'Burnout'; Joins Delaware Volleyball Team". Women's Hoops Guru blog. Archived from the original on September 3, 2008.
- "Elena DelleDonne joins UD volleyball team". University of Delaware. August 26, 2008. Retrieved February 20, 2010.
- "2009 University of Delaware Volleyball Media Guide" (PDF). University of Delaware. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 16, 2011. Retrieved February 21, 2010.
- "Elena Delle Donne". WNBAdraft.net. October 1, 2012. Retrieved October 11, 2012.
- "Delaware Women's Basketball National Ranking Summary Through Games 3/30/2010". NCAA. Retrieved April 4, 2010.
- "NCAA Women's Basketball". NCAA. February 18, 2010. Retrieved February 21, 2010.
- "Delaware women's basketball: Delle Donne wins CAA rookie of the week honors for sixth time". delawareonline.tv. February 10, 2010. Retrieved February 21, 2010. (subscription required)
- Byrne, Tom (March 11, 2010). "Delle Donne pulls off rare CAA awards double". WHYY. Retrieved March 11, 2010.
- "NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Statistics - 2011-12". ESPN. Retrieved September 9, 2012.
- "Elena Delle Donne pours in 39 as Delaware rolls". ESPN. March 18, 2012. Retrieved November 25, 2016.
- "Angel Goodrich, defense propel Kansas to Sweet 16 over Elena Delle Donne, Blue Hens". ESPN. March 21, 2012. Retrieved November 25, 2016.
- "Blue Hen Winning Streak Snapped as #9/8 Maryland Pulls Away Late for 69–53 Victory". BlueHens.com. December 20, 2012. Archived from the original on April 10, 2013. Retrieved April 17, 2013.
- "Delaware – Season Statistics". Bluehens.com. 2013. Retrieved April 17, 2013.[permanent dead link]
- "Elena Delle Donne Headlines List of Top College Prospects Invited to" (Press release). University of Delaware. Archived from the original on April 25, 2013.
- "Chicago Sky vs. Phoenix Mercury - Recap". ESPN. May 27, 2013. Retrieved August 13, 2013.
- "Rookie Elena Delle Donne Top Vote Getter in 2013 WNBA All-Star Balloting Presented by Boost Mobile" (Press release). WNBA. July 18, 2013. Retrieved August 13, 2013.
- "2013 WNBA All-Star Game - Elena Delle Donne replaced by Erika de Souza". ESPN. July 26, 2013. Retrieved August 13, 2013.
- Tresolini, Kevin (September 25, 2014). "Elena Delle Donne hopes home cooking will be the cure". USA Today. Retrieved November 25, 2016.
- "Sky need big year from Delle Donne". ESPN. June 2, 2015. Retrieved November 25, 2016.
- Perrotta, Tom (October 27, 2015). "Basketball's Best Free-Throw Shooter Isn't in the NBA". The Wall Street Journal.
- Thompson, Phil (September 16, 2015). "Sky's Elena Delle Donne near-unanimous choice for WNBA MVP". Chicago Tribune.
- "Elena Delle Donne". WNBA. Retrieved November 25, 2016.
- "Elena Delle Donne reunites with Kevin Hart for NBA All-Star Celebrity Game". Chicago Tribune. January 14, 2016. Retrieved November 25, 2016.
- Ellentuck, Matt (September 12, 2016). "WNBA star Elena Delle Donne to undergo thumb surgery just before the playoffs". SBNation.com. Retrieved November 25, 2016.
- "Thumb injury sidelines Chicago Sky's Elena Delle Donne for second round of playoffs". ESPN. September 23, 2016. Retrieved November 25, 2016.
- ELENA DELLE DONNE TO MYSTICS: LATEST TRADE DETAILS, COMMENTS AND REACTION
- Delle Donne, Elena (August 12, 2015). "Lizzie: Letter to my Younger Sister". The Players Tribune. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
- "Elena Delle Donne returning to U.S. after Lyme disease flare-up". ESPN.com. Associated Press. January 25, 2017. Retrieved February 1, 2017.
- Zaccardi, Nick (February 22, 2016). "Elena Delle Donne nervous as Olympic tryout camp opens". NBC Sports. Retrieved November 25, 2016.
- Arnold, Jeff (April 27, 2016). "Sky's Delle Donne headed for Olympics, ready to play for Auriemma". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved June 18, 2016.
- "Sky's Elena Delle Donne on first Olympic gold medal: 'Somebody pinch me'". Chicago Tribune.
- "Delle Donne misses U.S. win over China with eye injury". Delawareonline.com.
- "Elena Delle Donne, US basketball win Olympic gold". Delawareonline.com.
- Delle Donne opens up about battling Lyme disease
- Delle Donne on battling Lyme disease and her biggest inspiration
- "Elena Delle Donne Named Special Olympics Global Ambassador" (Press release). Special Olympics. February 7, 2014. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
- "NBA Cares: Third Annual NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified Sports® Basketball Game Tips Off at NBA All-Star 2014". National Basketball Association. February 10, 2014. Archived from the original on March 17, 2014. Retrieved May 12, 2014.
- Hine, Chris; Thompson, Phil (August 3, 2016). "Elena Delle Donne engaged, comes out: 'I'm not at all going to hide anything'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 9, 2016.
- WNBA’s Delle Donne pens endorsement deal
- Fan Interest In Rookies Leads The WNBA To Unprecedented Viewership Numbers
- Sky's Delle Donne signs with Wasserman Media Group
- Sky's Delle Donne signs with new marketing agency
- "Roster – Women's Basketball". University of Delaware. Archived from the original on January 14, 2010. Retrieved February 21, 2010.
- Kallam, Clay (December 23, 2009). "All-Decade Girls Basketball Team". ESPN. Retrieved February 21, 2010.
- "Former University of Delaware All-American, Current NFL Starter Paul Worrilow Honored as DSBA Athlete of the Year" (Press release). University of Delaware. February 17, 2014.
- "Elena Delle Donne". 2013–14 Delaware Blue Hen Women's Basketball Media Guide. University of Delaware Sports Infotmation. pp. 38–39. Retrieved February 1, 2014.
- "2012–13 CAA Women's Basketball Record Book" (PDF). Colonial Athletic Association. pp. 36–50. Retrieved January 28, 2014.
- "Elena Delle Donne Named 2013 WNBA Rookie of the Year". WBNA.com. September 20, 2013. Retrieved September 20, 2013.
- "All-WNBA Teams". WNBA. Archived from the original on December 22, 2008. Retrieved February 1, 2014.
- "PAST HONDA SPORTS AWARD WINNERS FOR BASKETBALL". THE Collegiate Women Sports Awards Program. Retrieved May 8, 2014.
- "List of 2016 ESPYS Nominees". ESPN MediaZone. Retrieved July 7, 2016.
- "Tyler Zeller of UNC, Delaware's Elena Delle Donne headline Capital One Academic All-America® Division I Basketball Teams". College Sports Information Directors of America. February 23, 2012. Retrieved January 28, 2014.
- "Delaware's Elena Delle Donne, Ohio State's Aaron Craft top Capital One Academic All-America® Division I Basketball Teams". College Sports Information Directors of America. April 18, 2013. Retrieved February 21, 2013.
- "NCAA selects Today's Top 10 for 2014" (Press release). NCAA. November 8, 2013. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
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