|An emotional Amedeo Della Valle was the toast of Italy after leading his nation to U20 glory|
By Mirco Melloni
Following on from an outstanding experience at the U20 European Championship, with a gold medal won and tournament MVP honours to his name, Amedeo Della Valle is now ready to prove himself at the next level.
The Italian guard just started his sophomore year at Ohio State University, but the senior national team is among his future targets.
Italian national team coach Simone Pianigiani confirmed that he is going to travel to the United States in order to meet with the four Italian NBA players (Andrea Bargnani in New York, Marco Belinelli in San Antonio, Danilo Gallinari in Denver and rookie Luigi Datome in Detroit).
But Columbus, Ohio, should be a further stop for Pianigiani, as Della Valle showed he is mature enough to be involved with the senior national team.
"I am very happy about coach Pianigiani's interest," said Della Valle.
"Since 21 July when we won the U20 European Championship in Tallinn, I had it clear in my mind that the senior national team had to be my next stop. I will work to get ready for next summer."
Despite big absentees like Andrea Bargnani, Danilo Gallinari, Daniel Hackett and captain Stefano Mancinelli, Italy played an excellent EuroBasket, closing in on eighth place, but it was not enough to earn a ticket to the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Now, playing in the EuroBasket 2015 Qualifying Round will give Della Valle and other up-and-coming players from across the continent a smooth transition into summer 2015.
"I know I will need to work hard to get a spot in Pianigiani's rotations, no matter which tournament Italy will play in.
"It will be a learning experience for me," says the 20-year-old guard, whose father Carlo played six games with the Italian senior national team in the '80s.
"My family gave me a big chance to play basketball, fun and passion are my main motivations...I don't play for other reasons. 2013 has given me a lot of confidence: the U20 European Championship team was a really special group of guys."
"I am still in contact with all those teammates, we created a group on WhatsApp, talking about everything and sending each other pictures and videos."
LEARNING TO FLY
|Italy head coach Simone Pianigiani will be keeping a close eye on Della Valle's season stateside|
Della Valle just started his third year in the States, having played with Findlay Prep School prior to joining the NCAA 10th ranked Ohio State, with whom he won the Big Ten Conference last season.
"The NCAA season will be very demanding but I like our team's chances and I am confident about my minutes in coach [Thad] Matta's rotations."
"After the season, I will be ready to prove myself at senior level, as representing your home country gives you incredible emotions."
Talking about the future, Della Valle is not ruling out a comeback to Europe. "If I am not able to reach the NBA immediately, I will be ready to play in Europe, where the level of competition is very high."
"I will always be thankful for the American experience; it is making me a man on and off the court."
"But I am also grateful for the U20 European Championship because it allowed me to make a name for myself in Europe. It gave me emotions I will never forget and it pushed me to the next level: I feel ready to look for a spot on the senior national team."