Amedeo Della Valle, Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia

Jan 29, 2016 by Frankie Sachs, Print
Amedeo Della Valle, Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia

Amedeo Della Valle may have taken the road less travelled to get where he is today, but he still arrived in time. The 22-year-old Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia shooting guard is among the top young shooters and scorers in Italian and European basketball and debuted for the Italian national team already last summer at EuroBasket 2015. Della Valle may have been destined to play professional basketball from birth; his father, Carlo Della Valle had a lengthy career in Italy’s Series A and even played a handful of games for the Italian national team. The younger Della Valle’s path to Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia saw him star in the Italian junior league, cross the ocean to play high school basketball in Las Vegas, claim MVP honors at the U20 European Championships and play college basketball for one of the top university teams in the United States.

Della Valle is native of the small town of Alba in the Piedmont region in northwest Italy, where he grew up dreaming of basketball. At age 14, it was time for him to find an established junior club to help develop. The family’s choice, Junior Casale Monferrato, was 90 kilometers away – and two hours each way by train – so Della Valle lived in a club-run dorm with other young players. Without any distractions, Della Valle could focus on schoolwork and basketball.

Already after one season, Marco Crespi, the coach of Casale Monferrato senior team in the Italian second division, called Della Valle up to train with his team. Though he was not yet ready for the rigors of professional basketball, Della Valle worked hard, improved and became a better player. He even made his Italian League debut at the tender age of 16. Two years of practicing with pros – and even taking part in four Legadue games – had Della Valle more than ready to not only play for the Italian junior national team, but to be one of its leaders.

Della Valle debuted for Italy at the 2011 U18 European Championships in Poland, where he took the tourney by storm. In just his first four games, Della Valle announced his presence by averaging 22.5 points on 7-of-12 three-point shooting. However he was injured in the final game of the group stage and needed to be helped off the court. He missed a quarterfinals victory over Poland and a semifinals loss to Serbia due to the back injury. Della Valle suited up for the bronze-medal game against Turkey, but after just two minutes of action needed to bail out and watch from the side as Italy finished fourth. That tournament would be his last basketball in Europe for nearly two tears.

After a holiday in Miami with his mother in 2006, Della Valle decided that if the opportunity arose, he would like to spend more time in the United States. That opportunity came when Findlay Prep High School in Henderson, Nevada, just outside of Las Vegas, offered Della Valle the chance to play his senior year of high school there. The school featured a unique program for its basketball team, which lived together, studied together and travelled across the country to compete against the top high school teams. Playing alongside future pros Anthony Bennett and Brandon Ashley, Della Valle set the school record for three-pointers made in a single season with 66 and helped Findlay Prep win the National High School Invitational championship.

When it came time to choose a college, Della Valle fielded offers to play basketball for some of the top programs in the United States, including Arizona, Gonzaga and Michigan, but ultimately decided to attend Ohio State University. Della Valle was the lone freshman for the Buckeyes that season, which, coupled with a minor injury in the preseason, made it tough for Della Valle to get too much playing time. However, his mop of curly dark hair and his outgoing personality quickly turned Della Valle in a fan favorite and one of the most popular players on the team. Della Valle averaged 2.5 points in 15 games that season before returning home to Italy to lead the national team again over the summer.

As impressive as Della Valle was two years earlier, he topped that at the 2013 U20 European Championships in Estonia. He made 11 of 12 free throws en route to 20 points to lead Italy over the hosts and then amassed 27 points and 7 rebounds in a 76-73 victory over Spain as Italy rolled into the quarterfinals. Della Valle settled for 11 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals in a 68-77 semifinals victory over Russia before scoring 17 of his team-high 19 points in the fourth quarter as Italy beat Latvia 67-60 for the gold medal. He averaged 13 points on 37.2% three-point shooting, 3.7 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 10 games in Estonia, after which Della Valle was named tournament MVP. He was later named a finalist for the FIBA Europe Young Men's Player of the Year for 2013.

ella Valle’s role at Ohio St. grew in his sophomore season. He played in 33 games as a regular in Coach Thad Matta’s rotations. His most memorable game for the Buckeyes came in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament. With Ohio St. trailing by 19 against Nebraska, Della Valle came in and turned things around with 12 points on offense and 3 blocks and 2 steals on defense. He helped seal the game late with 4 free throws as Ohio St. win 71-67. After the game, Matta told the school newspaper, the Lantern: "Amedeo plays with no ego… He just plays with a love for the game, and just did a tremendous job for us, and his defensive presence was as good — it was the difference in the game."

As it turned out, that game would be Della Valle’s last victory in an Ohio St. uniform. The Buckeyes lost in the semifinals of the conference tournament the next day. And less than a week later, Ohio St. fell to Dayton in their first game in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Two days later, Della Valle announced he was returning to Italy.

Della Valle signed a five-year contract with Grissin Bon Reggio Emilia. At his introductory press conference, he said explained why his chose Reggio Emilia. "A five-year contract means that they believe so much in me. For my part I was looking for the ideal place to put down roots and grow…. I looked at the project Reggio Emilia is building around young players. No other team was willing to invest in me like this… I'm happy to be able to train with experienced players in my roles like [James] White, [Troy] Bell and [Rimantas] Kaukenas. [Andrea] Cinciarini will be a source of great example for me, how he improves constantly. I know there will be difficult moments along the way, but I also know that the team will support me."

Because he joined the club so late in the season, Della Valle was ineligible to play in the 2014 EuroChallenge, but he cheered from the side as his new team hosted that competition’s final four in Bologna and won the title by defeating Triumph Lyubertsy in the championship game. Della Valla appeared in only one Italian League game that season, but he was already a focus for the next season.

In his first full season with Reggio Emilia, showed he belonged. Della Valle scored 12 points in his Eurocup debut against Brose Baskets Bamberg and followed that up with 18 points and 5 assists at Paris Levallois. Reggio Emilia struggled with injuries and did not advance to the Last 32. But he gave fans a show of what was in store in the regular season finale; Della Valle torched Telekom Baskets Bonn for 30 points on 7-of-10 three-point shooting. Amazingly, that wasn’t even his highest scoring tally for the season; In the third game in the Italian League, Della Valle came off the bench for 32 points in 43 minutes in a triple-overtime victory over Openjobmetis Varese.

Della Valle was a key contributor all season long as Reggio Emilia finished third in the Italian League. He averaged 9.3 points over a total of 49games, but took things up a notch on the playoffs. He was called on to start the final two games of the semifinals against Umana Reyer Venice after an injury to Drake Diener. Venice led the series 3-2, but Della Valle scored 13 points in each game to lead Reggio Emilia to a pair of victories and a ticket to the finals. There he starred with 12 points per game, including 26 in Game 6, but in the end Dinamo Banco di Sardegna Sassari prevailed in a thrilling seven-game series.

Nation team coach Simone Pianigiani kept an eye on Della Valle’s efforts and at the end of the season named him to the preliminary squad for EuroBasket 2015. He played well in the preparation games and by the start of September was named to the final 12-man roster. He ended up only playing limited minutes behind stars Alessandro Gentile of EA7 Emporio Armani Milan, Daniel Hackett of Olympiacos Piraeus, Reggio Emilia teammate Pietro Aradori and Marco Belinelli at his position, but came away stronger than ever. The proof to that has been on the stat sheet this season.

Della Valle started the Eurocup with at least 10 points and multiple three-pointers in each of his first seven games as the team built a winning record. His 12.3 points per game in the regular season were second on the team only to Aradori and his 47.1% accuracy from downtown was best on the team. And after averaging 18 points on 54.5% three-point shooting in his two most recent Eurocup games against Trabzonspor Medical Park, Della Valle is only getting better and pushing Reggio Emilia hard towards a spot in the knockout rounds. His numbers in the Italian League are also worth bragging about, after scoring 17 points on opening night against Torino, dishing 8 assists against Sassari and tallying 20 points against Varese. For the season, Della Valle is averaging 10.9 points on 37.6% three-point shooting and 2.2 assists in 17 Italian League games. And he’s not just getting better from year to year, but at this points Della Valle just might be getting better from game to game!