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Return of the Donne


Former child prodigy Elena Delle Donne has taken a long and winding road to WNBA superstardom

As a child, Elena Delle Donne was a spectacular talent, leading her Ursuline Academy team to three straight state titles. This incredible run began with a 50-point game in the state championship during her sophomore year and ended with every imaginable accolade as the number one player in the nation and a potential all-time great.

Today, the 28-year-old has fulfilled that potential. The Washington Mystics forward has clinched Rookie of the Year, All-WNBA First Team selections, a scoring title, a rebounding title and an MVP award. She is a present-day WNBA superstar in the midst of a Hall of Fame career. Take a look between her childhood dominance and her WNBA exploits, however, and you will find a story of love, courage and perseverance.

Upon leaving high school, Delle Donne accepted a scholarship to play for the premier women’s college basketball programme at UConn. Instead of starring for the Huskies, however, the 6-foot-5 Delle Donne dropped out after just two days. As the Huskies’ head coach Geno Auriemma found out, Delle Donne was homesick as she could not bear the thought of leaving her elder sister Lizzie behind. Lizzie had cerebral palsy and Elena had wanted to take care of her. To do so, Elena Delle Donne enrolled at the University of Delaware, just 15 minutes from home.

Following her enrolment, Delle Donne made another drastic decision: to give up basketball and play volleyball instead. She turned out to be characteristically great at volleyball as well, but ultimately could not give up her first love and went back to playing basketball for the Delaware Blue Hens. With her talents, she carried and cajoled her small-time team to the Sweet Sixteen and captured the collegiate scoring title as well.

After being picked second overall by the Chicago Sky in 2013, Delle Donne has had little trouble living up to her early expectations. With her recent trade to the Mystics, Washington fans will be looking forward to the next chapter of the Elena Delle Donne story. Sometimes a meandering journey is that much sweeter, and a detour is a destination in itself.

Article written by Wong Chin Yi. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the NBA.