Angel Delgado has no time for fun – not now and not this past summer.
Those are his own words. While most college kids get some time to themselves once school breaks, the Seton Hall forward got back to work within a few weeks of finals.
A native of Bajos de Haina, Delgado was asked to play for the Dominican Republic National Team in the 2016 Centrobasket Championship, which took place in Panama between June 19 and 25.
Delgado proved to be a powerful force down low in the six-game international competition, averaging 12.5 points – 10th best in the tournament – and 7.5 rebounds per game – sixth-best – while leading the D.R. to a Bronze Medal finish. He was proud to represent his country.
“It’s great,” he said. “I did it before, but now they gave me a big opportunity to carry the team and be the man out there.”
Delgado has played for his home nation in the past. He earned an invite to the 2015 Pan-Am Games two summers ago, though the time the tournament took away from his Seton Hall training caused concern. After an inconsistent start to the 2015-16 season, Delgado said he asked Pirates head coach Kevin Willard for permission to play internationally once again.
“I think anytime you can represent your country it’s a terrific honor,” said Willard, who watched Delgado and the national team play online. “When we talked about it this time we had a much better understanding of how we had to prepare for his training, for his travel – to continue to work on his game so he can get better. We were excited that he was playing for his country, but at the same time we wanted to make sure we had a little bit better game plan.”
Willard added that the timing of Centrobasket and the duration of the tournament – the Pan-Am Games were longer – made Delgado’s schedule less hectic once returning to SHU for summer practices.
“You can’t take the first part of the season to get in shape,” the coach said.
Delgado began working out with the national team in the Dominican Republic at the start of June. The team then traveled to Mexico to play some exhibition games before the real deal in Panama City. He was back in South Orange with the Blue and White by mid-July.
Delgado is not worried about how his time away will impact his collegiate play this season.
“I always got in my mind, ‘Stay at my school and do the best,” he said. “[Seton Hall] is more important than anything.”
Delgado added that he has matured both mentally and physically over the summer. In addition to improving his 17-footer, the big man believes he has grown up a bit too. He credits the older competition he had to face at Centrobasket.
“[It’s] like, be a man out there. Not be like a little kid. Sometimes you make mistakes in here [Seton Hall] – you know what I’m saying – and it’s okay. ‘He’s only 21 years old.’ Out there it’s like you’re a grown man already. Everybody treats you like a grown man.”
With another summer of international play under his belt, Delgado is now looking to show the Big East conference what a grown man looks like in the paint. The junior said he is a working non-stop. He is determined to see it pay off.
“I prepared myself really hard,” Delgado said. “I didn’t take days off this summer because I really wanna prove myself to everybody who I really am. People don’t really know who I am.”
Gary Phillips can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @GaryHPhillips.