Ken Davis

Circle of success helps make Malcolm Delaney a winner

by Ken Davis December 06, 2010 in Men's Basketball


Talk to Virginia Tech guard Malcolm Delaney for just a few minutes and it becomes obvious he’s not just another tough guy on the basketball court. There’s much more to him than that.

Delaney is all business, without any frills. You might say he conducts his life like a CEO, running a corporation built for success. And even though he often feels overlooked as a player, Delaney has always known what he wants, and how to get there.

Maybe that’s why he has a reputation as the most serious guy in college basketball, a player with a true chip on his shoulder. Hokies coach Seth Greenberg regularly encourages Delaney to smile more and to enjoy the moment. But that would be out of personality for Delaney.

“Unless I see something funny, I’m not smiling,” Delaney said. “I’m not that type of person. I’m a nice guy, once you get to know me. But I don’t walk around just smiling.”

Leave the smiling to those who have watched Delaney mature as a player, as a student, and as a person giving back to his hometown of Baltimore and the Virginia Tech community. He is well ahead of schedule to graduate and will leave Blacksburg as one of the greatest players in school history.

In his spare time, he helps elementary school children with a reading program. And he takes his greatest joy from assisting with Special Olympics, a service he has participated in since high school. Put it all together and that is why he is a candidate for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, given annually to a NCAA Division I senior who has had notable achievements in community, classroom, character and competition.

After leading the Atlantic Coast Conference in scoring last season with a 20.2 overall average, Delaney briefly explored the possibility of heading to the NBA before his senior season. But he felt he could improve his draft standing - and get his degree in apparel, housing, resource management, and consumer studies by returning for his fourth year.

“I basically only had one semester left,” Delaney said. “Next semester I only need to take one credit. I could have easily finished that one semester at some point in the future and graduated, but I wanted to finish what I had started. There were a bunch of us who came in here together and it will be good for us to leave together.”

Delaney says his degree in consumer studies should prepare him for the business side of NBA life as well as other economic decisions ahead. That ability to plan ahead started during his days at Towson Catholic High School, when he joined with other players who wanted to avoid the dangers of street life in the city. Along with Donte Greene, now in the NBA, they formed a group called the “Circle of Success.”

“Those guys were my best friends and we just stuck together through high school,” Delaney said. “It was our little circle. It’s not just about basketball, even though we’ve got guys playing at every level. It was about getting through business school, trying to do different things – not just basketball.”

Baltimore is known for producing tough players, especially at the guard position. Delaney is all that, but he admits he is well grounded because he comes from a two-parent family that stressed education and making right decisions. His mother, Patricia, is a nurse and day-care provider. His father, Vincent, is a social worker with his own history as a Baltimore city guard. His dad grew up playing against Muggsy Bogues, Gary Graham and David Wingate before starting at Voorhees College in South Carolina.

“It means a lot to have two parents who care,” Delaney said. “I see a lot of people around me, like my best friends, who only have one parent. And there are some things that one parent just can’t do. They taught me to stay focused. Don’t get too high on yourself and don’t get too low. Keep a level head and stay out of trouble.”

And that, quite simply, is the person Malcolm Delaney has become.