In its second year, the NCAA’s extended deadline for the NBA draft already looks like a huge positive for basketball. A number of college standouts are returning after the opportunity to evaluate their professional standing, but none are as poised for superstardom in the 2017-’18 season as Seton Hall big man Angel Delgado.
If you are not entirely familiar with Delgado’s game, take this advice for next season: Stock on popcorn, have a few beverages at the ready, and prepare to tune in for Delgado and the Pirates.
Angel Delgado is my early clubhouse leader to win the various 2018 national Player of the Year awards. He led the nation in rebounding a season ago at 13.1 point per game, after averaging just south of 10 in 2015-’16. He’s given opponents fits keeping him off the boards throughout his Seton Hall career, but took it to another level in ’16-’17, ranking sixth nationally in offensive rebounding percentage per KenPom.com, and 14th in defensive rebounding percentage.
Rebounds just seem to stick to Delgado. Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson offered a fitting description.
“He has those soft hands,” Anderson said in his press conference, prior to the Razorbacks’ NCAA Tournament matchup with Seton Hall. “When he catches it, it’s like Velcro. And that’s really helpful in rebounding. He’s a great position rebounder, and they play off of him. I think he plays with a lot of energy, a lot of passion.”
Energy and passion: Those are the attributes that make Angel Delgado must-watch TV come basketball season. His presence on the glass is certainly impressive, but no rebounding statistic alone quite conveys
Here’s some of that energy on display in 2016 against Big East Conference rival Butler. Delgado protects the rim, breaks out and beats everyone down the floor for the dunk.
With Isaiah Whitehead shouldering the offensive load most of that season, Delgado’s scoring responsibilities came down to similar such point-blank field-goal attempts. He made his bones rolling to the basket, on put-backs and with the occasional transition bucket.
Last season, Delgado became the Pirates’ offensive focal point. He responded, bumping his per-game average up by nearly six points, without sacrificing his field-goal percentage.
His refined offensive repertoire include a baby-hook and a gorgeous fadeaway. It’s classic, back-to-the-basket offense perhaps taken for granted in the modern game — but that can be invaluable, as Kennedy Meeks’ role for national champion North Carolina demonstrated this offseason.
After demonstrating improvements to his low-post offense in 2016-’17, the next step in Delgado’s evolution is to step out to 15 and beyond and hit the jumper. Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard need not deviate too drastically from the Pirates’ formula — with Delgado joined by fellow veterans Desi Rodriguez and Khadeen Carrington, they have the foundation for a run at next year’s Big East Conference championship.
However, should Delgado arrive next season with the threat of a mid-range game, he’ll be college basketball’s most complete big man.