Aug. 7, 2013
With newfound confidence and experience, sophomore guard Amedeo Della Valle returns to the Buckeye state following his gold-medal performance at the 20-and-under European Championship in Tallinn, Estonia.
The tournament, held July 9–21, gave Della Valle a chance to represent his native Italy on an international scale. Ultimately, the Italian squad outlasted Latvia 67-60 to win the prestigious championship title.
“When you put the jersey on it’s the greatest feeling,” Della Valle said. “In college, you get the chance to play for your university, but there you get to play for your country. That’s millions of people you get to represent.”
After falling short of the podium with a fourth-place finish at the U18 European Championships in 2011, Della Valle was particularly motivated this time around to gain respect for his country. Before this year, Italy had not won a title of comparable stature since it claimed gold in the U22 category more than two decades ago.
Despite owning the smallest team physically in the tournament, the Italians advanced to the championship game after a few early close calls. It was Della Valle, however, who willed the group forward.
With a clutch 3-pointer at the end of regulation in the quarterfinals vs. Lithuania, the Buckeye guard sent the game into overtime and gave Italy the chance to prevail. Della Valle also played well in the title game, scoring 17 of his team-high 19 points in the deciding fourth quarter of action. For his efforts, he was recognized with the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award.
The championship experience provided Della Valle with something he has been searching for this offseason, self-assurance.
“This summer was all about getting my confidence back,” Della Valle said. “I wanted to work on playing with the ball and off the ball. I don’t just want to be a shooter. Last season, I was used to going into the game basically to shoot the ball, but that’s not the only thing I can do.
“I was really motivated going into this tournament,” Della Valle said. “I was happy with Ohio State’s Elite Eight finish but I wasn’t satisfied because I wasn’t a huge part of the team on the court. I really wanted to go out and prove myself.”
Although the U20 European Championship was not widely televised in the United States, supporters of Della Valle still had the opportunity to tune into live online streaming. As a result, he received plenty offers of encouragement and congratulations from coaches, teammates and Buckeye fans.
“My closest friends were watching the games, so they were in touch with me everyday,” Della Valle said. “I think it was good people were able to watch the games online because they were able to understand what kind of player I am and what I can do for the team next year.”
Now, Della Valle will come home to Columbus and rejoin his teammates in preparation for the upcoming season. Coming off an Elite Eight run in the NCAA tournament, the Buckeyes will open their season at home Nov. 9 against Morgan State.
“I’m looking forward to getting Ohio State back to the Final Four,” Della Valle said. “Individually, I just want to play a bigger role compared to last season. I think it will be important, especially with Deshaun [Thomas] leaving early. We are going to need people to come out and score more.”
In Estonia, Della Valle averaged 13.0 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.4 steals. However, if last season was any testament it may be the Italian’s late game heroics the Buckeyes rely on most.
“It is definitely more fun when you are the one who hits the shot,” Della Valle said. “Buzzer-beaters are always fun. I was just confident during the tournament. I’m not scared to take those kind of shots.”
Back in Columbus with a little gold-medal swagger, it is clear Della Valle found exactly what he was hunting for this offseason.
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