VIDEO: Delle Donne gets to battle one of her first recruiters
In this era of YouTube and endless on-line recruiting services, it wouldn't be surprising now if a college coach learned about a 7th grade sensation.
For North Carolina women's basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell, a trip by Ursuline Academy, one of Delaware's top private high schools, to her annual basketball camp nearly netted one of the top players in college basketball.
Elena Delle Donne was about to begin a career at Ursuline which would end as the state's all-time leading scorer and National High School player of the year honors by her senior campaign at UA.
Hatchell remembered vividly meeting the rising 8th grader: "She was about as big then as she is now. Her team came to our camp and she was impressive. You don't see a kid that age as skilled as she was. Her basketball intelligence was absolutely incredible. I got to visit with her dad (Ernie) and we offered her a scholarship before she left because we knew that she was going to be a great player."
Delle Donne says she recalls not feeling pressured by the offer, although she didn't accept it. The two did stay in touch throughout the recruitment process, with Elena calling Coach Hatchell "Awesome. I did have a great relationship with her, and I was able to keep a good relationship with her, and I saw her (Sunday) and said I.
Ultimately, Delle Donne eventually would accept a major school's scholarship offer, but it was with Connecticut, not the Tar Heels. Of course, Elena only stayed at UConn for about 48 hours before taking the long path that ends with Delle Donne playing her final in-state game for her home-state's University against the school that first recruited her.
From afar Hatchell has remained impressed: "As good of a player as she is, she is just as good of a person. Elena has continued to get better and I am sure she has not been a disappointment to anyone."
Tuesday will give Elena another chance to impress someone who had a sense early on just how good Delle Donne could be.
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