Guard Joe DeSantis of Fairfield University, the Washington Bullets' first selection in the 1979 college draft, has opted to play in Italy this season. The decision came as no surprise to the club's management.

"I advised Joe to go to Europe," said General Manager Bob Ferry, "We have too many guards already and I told the agents of all our low-round draft picks that they could sign with another club."

"I was a victim of circumstances," said DeSantis. "The Bullets are already established at guard, so I'll just play ball over there and try to get on an NBA team next year."

The 6-foot-1, 175-pound guard signed a one-year contract for $45,000 with the Canon team in Venice. He also will get a car, an apartment and, if he wishes, free education.

But he has other reasons for wanting to play in Italy.

"Yeah, my heritage had something to do with it, and my father lives near Venice so I'll be able to spend some time with him," DeSantis said. "The caliber of play in Italy is very good and it should be a good experience."

DeSantis, a native of Brooklyn, will leave for Italy Tuesday. The basketball season there begins in late September.