Lorenzo Donadio is unfazed, fearless and undeterred: he just wants to play basketball
Most first-year athletes have the typical freshman jitters that adapt to the pace and style of a college basketball game, but the American University sophomore guard Lorenzo Donadio had to adapt during a one-of-a-kind pandemic.
The whole experience was atypical, Donadio said.
“Last season was the most difficult I have ever had,” said Donadio. “We didn’t have a pre-season so it was difficult to learn to move or play like the coach [Brennan] wants.”
Donadio lived alone in an apartment his first year due to COVID-19 security protocols. While Donadio has said his teammates have supported him and helped integrate him into the squad, the season has always been a struggle.
“Normally you have a full summer to get used to the full preseason and 11 preseason games before playing in the league. But, last year, they were isolated for a month… and we only trained on November 29, ”the head coach Mike Brennan noted. “So I give all young people the credit for… competing in difficult circumstances, in very, very new circumstances. “
Donadio performed well in his first season as an Eagle, despite the specter of a pandemic. The native of Rome, Italy on average less than two points per game, played in all ten matches, one of two freshmen to do so, and was one of the five Eagles to appear in all ten matches.
“He competed, which I liked the most,” said Brennan. “He was there, and he wasn’t a deer of the kind of freshmen who are shocked at speed and aggression.”
Donadio’s competitive fervor was shown again this summer, when he represented his country in Italy’s junior national team in the 2021 FIBA U20 European Championship, his third time playing for his country in his young career.
Donadio said his greatest strength as a player is his knowledge of the game and his ability to drive to the edge and score. Donadio also said there are still a lot of areas he needs to improve.
“I’m trying to improve my dribbling, especially with my left hand,” said Donadio. “And of course always try to improve your shot.”
The 6’4 goalkeeper has learned to play at the highest level of competition in Europe. Donadio said his father had interested him in basketball. Donadio’s dad was also playing, and when he was 10, his dad convinced him to go to the local practice.
“The first practice I fell in love with basketball,” Donadio said. “I could feel it was my sport.”
Donadio quickly mastered the art of basketball and has played for the Italian national team ever since 2017. He averaged 9.9 points per game in the 2019 FIBA U18 European Championship, he scored 27 points against Serbia in the same tournament and Donadio finished his career in the junior national team by scoring 15 points against Albania in the 2021 FIBA U20 European Championship.
The experience of playing for the Italian national team was also beneficial to his AU career. While the American game was faster and more physical than the European game, Donadio said he didn’t mind.
Donadio doesn’t seem to be put off by adversity. In fact, Donadio went to AU because he bet on himself.
The native of Rome faces a dilemma many international athletes are forced to cope once their athletic career in high school is over. Donadio could either play professional basketball in Europe or get a business degree from a university, but he couldn’t do both. Donadio said he wasn’t interested in being forced to choose either, and when he was 17 he turned to the New World to continue playing basketball.
“College in America was the best option for me to study at a higher level school and then higher level basketball as well,” Donadio said.
The move was a gamble; said Donadio. Donadio had no guarantee that he would be able to continue his career after high school, and he could not speak English.
Despite this, Donadio quickly learned the language, began an impressive career in America. Donadio first performed for Admiral Farragut High School in Saint Petersburg. He graduated from high school before the pandemic began in Latin boys just outside of Baltimore, where he was named Baltimore Sun Athlete of the Week in January 2020.
While Donadio’s senior season at Boys Latin was not interrupted by the pandemic, it made recruiting difficult. Donadio said he was recruited by video call, but despite the pandemic complicating the process, Donadio said he received an offer to play in Division I at Howard University.
Not knowing if Howard was a good candidate, Donadio signed with the AU in May 2020. Brennan said the associate head coach Scott Greenman discovered Donadio.
“Everyone we spoke to around him praised his character, the kind of kid he was, the kind of student, the kind of hard worker,” said Brennan. “It really matches what we’re looking for here. “
While Donadio is not sure how the season will unfold, especially with the pandemic continuing, he is optimistic about the 2021-2022 season.
“This year I can already see the difference of having a pre-season compared to last year,” said Donadio. “So for sure this year will be better.”