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Former 'Nova center Dylan Painter finding success at Delaware

11/18/2021, 1:00am EST
By Ty Daubert

Ty Daubert (@TyDaubert)

As a sixth-year college basketball player, Delaware’s Dylan Painter has continued to build his confidence as he’s gained more experience. Now, the impact of that growth is on clear display, the former Big 5 big man turning himself into one of the best mid-major posts in the country.

Dylan Painter (above) is a major piece for a Delaware squad with eyes on a CAA title. (Photo: Gavin Bethell/GShotPics)

Following the team’s home opener against La Salle on Wednesday, the 6-foot-10 forward is now averaging 17.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, cementing himself as one of the Colonial Athletic Association’s premier players.

“This year has gotten off to a great start for me,” Painter said. “My teammates believe in me and my coaches believe in me, and I just feel great out there.”

Painter has settled into a home in Newark that’s allowing him to shine as a player. He originally attended Villanova, playing sparingly as a freshman in 2016-2017. After redshirting the next season, he announced he’d be transferring during the 2018-2019 season, having played just two games. Painter found a role as a starter on the Blue Hens for the next two seasons, averaging 11.0 and 8.1 rebounds in 24.2 minutes per game, including career bests of 13.5 ppg and 11.5 rpg last year.

But in his third season in Delaware, after being named to the preseason first-team all-CAA, Painter seems to have taken yet another leap, a major reason why the Blue Hens were the CAA preseason favorites.

“His confidence is just at an all-time high,” Blue Hens coach Martin Ingelsby said. “He’s such a big part of it. He knows he’s a feature guy.”

Painter was certainly featured in regulation in Delaware’s 85-82 overtime win over the Explorers at the Bob Carpenter Center. He scored 19 points and grabbed 12 rebounds before fouling out late in the second half, displaying plenty in his 34 minutes before his teammates held on behind a 35-point night from Ryan Allen.

Painter has expanded his shooting range out to the 3-point arc. (Photo: Gavin Bethell/GShotPics)

With under a minute left in the first half, Painter made the most noise with an excellent glimpse into the versatility he’s added to his game. With the Blue Hens down four, he rebounded a missed shot and put it back up, nailing a tough finish and drawing a foul. He made the free throw, then buried a 3-pointer at the top of the key the next time down. Delaware then got the ball back again to close the half, which ended with a Painter trey off the catch as time expired to cap a personal 9-0 run and put the team up five.

That kind of outside shooting wasn’t something he showed in college before — he was 2-for-8 from deep before this season — but it’s something he’s put the effort into improving.

“In high school, I could shoot the ‘3’ and stuff, and I kind of got away from it at Villanova,” said Painter, who’s hit three of his four 3-point attempts this winter. “Since I got back here, I’ve been working on it. It’s really all about confidence. I found confidence in shooting, and my teammates have confidence in me shooting.”

Added Ingelsby: “Us instilling confidence in him as a basketball player, I think that has really helped his game evolve.”

In addition to the newfound element of his game, his post scoring and being the anchor of the Blue Hens defense, Painter also brings a sense of leadership to this Delaware squad in his third year. Being around the Villanova team during its 2018 season and NCAA Tournament victory, he’s been exposed to winning and what a winning team does. The Blue Hens respect that and learn from what Painter has to offer.

“He’s done a great job as a leader of our team and being a guy people look up to,” Ingelsby said. “Just setting an example of how you work every day. I think that resonates with our group.”

Painter wants to turn Delaware into a winner, too. His eyes are on a potential CAA championship and a bid into March Madness. 

The Blue Hens haven’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2014, a 25-win season thanks to the powerhouse backcourt of Davon Usher, Devon Saddler and Jarvis Threatt. Ingelsby replaced Monte Ross three years later and has only had two winning seasons (17-16 in 2018-19 and 22-11 in 2019-20), but the former Archbishop Carroll standout and Notre Dame assistant has had significant injury issues to deal with that set back some promising teams.

He’s got the pieces in place to contend at the top of the CAA this year, with Painter and Allen (19.7 ppg) joined by George Washington transfer and Haverford School alum Jameer Nelson Jr. (12.0 ppg) and central Pennsylvania native Kevin Anderson Jr. (10.0 ppg), plus West Chester East product Andrew Carr (7.7 ppg).

A trip to Estero (Fl.) next week for the Gulf Coast Showcase against other quality mid-majors should be a good gauge for those aspirations, but the Blue Hens are happy with their 2-1 start to the year in the meantime.

“I think it’s the start of something big down here in Newark,” Painter said.

Wherever Delaware goes, it’ll be crucial that Painter plays one of the most important parts. And at this point in his career, he’s confident he can handle it.

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