Delle Donne named DSBA Athlete of the Year

Elena Delle Donne

NEW CASTLE — There are people who believe Elena Delle Donne is the greatest athlete the state of Delaware has ever produced.

Clearly, the 6-foot-5 basketball star is as accomplished as any First Stater in history.

And, on Monday, Delle Donne added another impressive line to her resume when she was named the state Athlete of the Year for the fourth time by the Delaware Sportswriters & Broadcasters Association.

Delle Donne won the 2019 John J. Brady Award after a season in which she led the Washington Mystics to the WNBA title. The former University of Delaware star also earned her second league MVP award in the process.

By winning her fourth Brady award, Delle Donne has captured the honor more than any athlete in its history. The Wilmington native, who also won the award in 2012, ‘10 and ‘08, had shared that distinction with former Phillies’ pitcher Chris Short (Cape Henlopen High) and Cowboys’ defensive lineman Randy White (McKean), who were both three-time winners.

The 30-year-old Delle Donne, who is recovering from recent back surgery, wasn’t able to attend Monday’s 71st annual DSBA lunch. Her WNBA title joins a list of career championships that also includes four high school state titles (Ursuline), two college conference crowns and an Olympic gold medal.

“It’s hard to even put it to words, but to win this, and win this with such a great group of people, I think that’s what makes this so special,” Delle Donne was quoted after the WNBA championship game in September.

Despite dealing with three herniated disks in her back, Delle Donne collected 21 points and nine rebounds when the Mystics beat the Sun, 89-78, in the deciding game.

Averaging 19.5 points per game, Delle Donne became the first female player to record shooting percentages of 50 (field goal), 40 (three-point) and 90 (free throw) in a season. Only eight NBA players have accomplished the feat.

Also on Monday, Milford High grad Octavion Wilson received the Buddy Hurlock Unsung Hero Award. Wilson returned to play football at Salisbury last fall after overcoming two major health crises earlier in his college career.

Octavian Wilson

“I had a doctor look me in my face and tell me I’d never walk again,” Wilson said during his acceptance speech. “And I’m here getting an award and jumping a 51-inch vertical. I had doctors look me in my face and tell me I was going to need support from my family.

“But I knew one day I was going to be able to stand up in front of some people and let you know that, no matter what anybody says, you can get past it.”

The Appoquinimink High baseball squad was named the state’s Team of the Year after becoming just the fourth team in the state tournament era to finish unbeaten. And the Jaguars not only went 22-0, but they allowed just 24 total runs while winning the state title.

“The season was remarkable in so many different ways,” said Appo coach Mike Torres, who was named head coach just a few weeks before the season started. “The thing that was most impressive to me was seeing a group of high school student-athletes remain focused for 22 straight games and every practice along the way, who had their backs against the wall at different times, and they were able to come through with the win.”

The DSBA’s other award winners were Salesianum’s Chip Hannig (Tubby Raymond Coach of the Year Award), who has led the Sals to 17 DIAA boys’ swimming state titles; and John Gretchen (Herm Reites Public Service Award), who helped found and run the Diamond State Classic Award girls’ basketball tournament for the past 29 years.