DiLeo looks to become a leader, complete player in sophomore year


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Sophomore forward David DiLeo shoots in a basketball game against the University of Michigan on Nov. 13 at the Crisler Center.

David DiLeo didn't start any of the 32 games his freshman season, but recorded the fourth most minutes on the team with 24.6 per game. 

Now a sophomore, the 6-foot-7, 216-pound forward has started in both games for Central Michigan men's basketball and is becoming a leader on and off the court, according to head coach Keno Davis.

“I don’t think there is a player out there that wants to be better than David (DiLeo),” Davis said.

Known primarily as a deep threat, shooting the 3-pointer is something Davis wants to see DiLeo continue to use, but also show off what else he has done this offseason in game action.

“(DiLeo) kind of just came in as a spot-up shooter, and that isn't what he wants to be known as,” Davis said. “He is a player that wants to be able to get to the basket, score in the post and be a complete basketball player while continuing to improve on his 3-pointer and stretching the defense.”

DiLeo would agree, and said it all starts with getting to the gym beyond just the normal practice hours. 

“I try to work on keeping my shooting up to par, because that is clearly my main strength,” DiLeo said. “However, I need to become more of a complete player by scoring off the dribble and creating more for the players around me.

“If I do that and continue to become more vocal, I believe I can help lead these new guys out here.”

Assistant coach Kevin Gamble said DiLeo isn’t a “big talker” on the court as far as vocal leadership yet, but said DiLeo’s improvements on the court are what has bolstered him to a starting job.

“One of the biggest changes for David (DiLeo) this offseason is his aggressiveness on the floor,” Gamble said. “He gets after the rebounds now, I think his numbers will go up in every category, but we are working on that vocal leadership.

“Some guys lead by action, others with their voice, but David is working to be one of our best players this year.”

In the 2016-17 campaign, DiLeo was third on the team with 8.5 points per game. The players in front of him, were two of the best scorers the Chippewa basketball program has ever seen.

Former guards Braylon Rayson and Marcus Keene combined to average 51.2 points per game last season, with Keene’s 30 points per game leading all of Division I basketball in scoring.

DiLeo said there are many challenges for the team even with himself and three starters returning for the 2017-18 season.

“Obviously (Keene and Rayson) could score the ball a lot, so replacing those points is what we are looking for,” DiLeo said. “I don’t think there is one or two guys that are going to do it, we have a really deep roster with guys that can score every night.”

So far, that statement has held true as senior forward Cecil Williams led the team in scoring with 21 points in the opener against Siena Heights. Transfer guard Shawn Roundtree led CMU with 21 points in the loss to Michigan on Tuesday.

DiLeo, an Iowa City, Iowa native, is currently averaging exactly what he did a season ago with 8.5 points per contest through the first two games this season.

To him, it doesn't matter how much he scores per night, but rather how many points his team ends with.

“If we can stay consistent and win basketball games, it doesn't matter what my numbers are,” DiLeo said. “I want them to be good, but winning is what's on my mind.”

While the Chippewas were picked to finish sixth in the Mid-American Conference West standings, DiLeo said it doesn't affect this team's goals this season.

“Seeing us at the bottom in projections motivates us, but we don’t let that change what this team can do,” DiLeo said. “There is a reason why we play the games and don’t base the final results off what happened last year.

“This team wants to make the NCAA Tournament and we can just take it day-by-day until then.”

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