Seton Hall basketball's Angel Delgado is one of the best big men in the country.
After nearly turning pro, the star center changed course. A big senior year could lift his No. 31 to Walsh Gym's rafters.
It won’t end up in the record book, but one of the greatest comebacks in Seton Hall basketball history occurred this month.
Standout center Angel Delgado has opted to return for his senior season with the Pirates, backing off from turning pro after nearly signing with an agent.
"It's very important to my family and me that I finish what I started," Delgado said Monday on Twitter. "This was a difficult decision and took time and patience. Coming back feels just right!"
His announcement restores order for the Hall, which all along had been planning on having the 6-foot-9, 240-pounder as the centerpiece of a squad with Top 25 potential in 2017-18. But two weeks ago concerns about his desire to leave escalated, to the point where the coaching staff became convinced that his departure was likely.
That came as a surprise because Delgado, despite leading the nation in rebounding and earning first team All-Big East honors, was not invited to the NBA scouting combine and never appeared in the leading draft projections.
But he does have the ability to make six figures overseas right now, and the turn-pro drumbeat coming from agents had grown strong.
So how to explain Delgado’s changing mindset and final reversal? Here is what Gannett New Jersey learned.
- Thanks to the urging of agents, Delgado became convinced he could follow the path of former Hall teammate Isaiah Whitehead, who made the NBA as a mid-second round draft choice of the talent-depleted Brooklyn Nets.
- Out of respect for Kevin Willard, Delgado informed Seton Hall's head coach of his intention to leave, but then also listened to Willard's truthful rationale for staying in school — that his odds of making the NBA are much longer right now than Whitehead's were at this time last year. Next season, don’t be surprised to see Delgado make a sustained effort to develop a stronger game away from the basket (his range did improve last season, to about 12 feet).
- After news of Delgado's leanings went public, some respected industry insiders reached out to Delgado's camp advising him to finish his college career.
- Delgado is a 22-year-old who had to make a big decision. These things can be difficult.
So Delgado will return to South Orange amid a hero’s welcome for his senior season. He already owns 1,129 points and 1,053 rebounds as a collegian, becoming just the fifth Pirate to reach both milestones (Walter Dukes, Nick Werkman, Ken House and Glenn Mosley are the others).
One more big campaign could push his No. 31 up to the Walsh Gym rafters. The Pirates have not retired a men’s hoops jersey since Terry Dehere’s No. 24 in 1993. The last big man to reach that status was Mosley, whose career ended in 1977.
As for the coming season, Delgado projects as a co-favorite for Big East Player of the Year along with Villanova point guard Jalen Brunson. He will join returning power forwards Ish Sanogo and Michael Nzei, wing Desi Rodriguez and 6-foot-10 freshman combo forward Sandro Mamukelashvili in the program’s best front line since the P.J. Carlesimo era.
And he will lead the quest for key piece of unfinished business among the Pirates' four senior starters: Seton Hall's first NCAA Tournament victory since 2004.
Delgado's decision caps a huge spring period for the Pirates that featured the addition of three recruits. This may be their final roster, although they have one open scholarship remaining:
Guards: Khadeen Carrington, Myles Powell, Myles Cale, Jordan Walker, Eron Gordon.
Wings: Desi Rodriguez.
Bigs: Angel Delgado, Ish Sanogo, Michael Nzei, Sandro Mamukelashvili, Darnell Brodie, Romaro Gill (likely redshirt).
Staff writer Jerry Carino: email@example.com.