Daniel Chi / Asst. photo editor
Amedeo Della Valle doesn’t get much time on the court.
The freshman guard played in only 15 out of Ohio State’s 35 games this season. That trend likely won’t change when the Buckeyes face Arizona Thursday in the Sweet 16. But throughout the season, where his presence is lacking on the court, it’s made up for in the stands.
Fans often chant Della Valle’s name, wearing wigs resembling his now-recognizable dark, curly-haired afro.
But standing at 6 feet 5 inches and weighing 190 pounds, he said he just feels like a normal student.
“I can see myself as a regular student, and many students can maybe see themselves as me because I maybe don’t look like a basketball player,” Della Valle said. “So they can tell he is working really hard and trying to be successful.”
The Alba, Italy, native came to the United States in 2011 and played for Findlay Prep High School, in Henderson, Nev., his senior year. He said he never expected to get the kind of attention he does at OSU — but he can’t get enough.
“I just get a lot of love from everybody, I love it honestly,” Della Valle said. “The first couple of games, I was like, ‘This is crazy so we will see how it goes,’ and then it started increasing and increasing over time,” Della Valle said.
Andy Johnson, assistant coach at Findlay Prep, said Della Valle was also a fan favorite during his time there because of his personality.
“He is just a great young man who is extremely outgoing and caring,” Johnson said. “Everybody just fell in love with him. We still talk about him and miss him.”
Unlike Della Valle, Johnson wasn’t surprised by the shower of fan love.
“I kind of expected this for him, wherever he went,” Johnson said. “He is a great addition to the team and the student body.”
Dustin Stinson, a fourth-year in sports industry and member of Buckeye NutHouse, the official OSU basketball student section, said it’s easy to start a conversation with Della Valle via Twitter and get to know him.
“He’s formed an identity as being the Italian guy with the big hair and warm heart, and he’s really likable because of it,” Stinson said.
Sarah Wynn, Buckeye NutHouse director and a fourth-year in communication and women’s, gender and sexuality studies, said she believes Della Valle’s passion for OSU has a lot to do with all of the publicity.
“I have never seen a player who is as willing to meet with people and go to events,” Wynn said. “He just loves his fans and wants to make a connection with them.”
Even with all the eyes on him, Della Valle has been able to keep his concentration on basketball and not let it affect him.
Della Valle broke the record for 3-pointers made in a single season at Findlay Prep with 66. This season Della Valle is 10 of 26 from the 3-point line, shooting at 38 percent.
“I don’t really pay attention to the fame, although I do like it and I hope it stays like this, but I’m just a regular student like everyone else and I don’t really care if somebody roots for me or against me,” he said.
The fans know of his ability behind the arc and are usually pretty vocal about it. Della Valle said he tries to block out all of the cheering, but it isn’t always easy.
“I really can’t do it all the time, but it’s really crazy that as soon as I get the ball they just want me to shoot,” Della Valle said. “Sometimes it’s hard because you hear so many people just screaming and everything, especially when I walk off the bench and everyone looks at me, but I just try not to care and think about it.”
OSU plays Arizona Thursday at 7:47 p.m. at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Calif.