The road to the NBA is never an easy one, even for a player as talented, gifted and dedicated as Xavier Silas. Silas 27, made his NBA debut on April 25, 2012 after going undrafted in 2011. Silas played for two universities – starting his collegiate career with Northern Illinois University and ending it playing for University of Colorado. Silas suffered a skull fracture while playing for the 76ers summer league team on July, 13 2012. He was elbowed in the head and news broke out quickly as players and personnel around the league were worried of his well-being. Silas recovered from the injury and there were no lingering effects from the head injury. Having only played 2 regular season and 2 playoff games in the NBA with the Philadelphia 76ers, Silas is dedicated to earning his stripes playing in the D-League and oversees – most recently playing for Nea Kifisia / A.E.N.K. in the Greek A1 League. We recently caught up with Xavier Silas and he agreed to do a text interview with us and he also got us an interview with his current coach for The Basketball Tournament, Joe Connelly. Xavier told us he loved playing in Greece and told us about his experiences playing oversees.
Xavier was featured on a piece by Alex Kennedy on BasketballInsiders titled Silas’ Success Abroad May Lead to NBA Shot. Silas has shown his patience and dedication to the game as he works his way back to the NBA. If Xavier Silas does not make an NBA roster by the time the regular season starts we expect him to sign oversees with a team who could use his shooting such as Panathinaikos BC. He has expressed his pleasure playing oversees numerous times and he speaks highly of the last team and city he played for.
Xavier Silas is currently playing in the TBT (The Basketball Tournament) for the “Team City of Gods“, coached by the Denver Nuggets‘ GM Tim Connelly’s brother Joe Connelly. Connelly is a friendly character and was open to answering all of our questions. He is coaching 5 players who have played in the NBA. Joe Connelly has been praised for being able to handle the personalities of 5 NBA players on the same team in the tournament while other coaches have struggled with less high-profile players on their rosters.
We held a text interview with Xavier Silas and a phone interview with Joe Connelly. Now on to the interviews..
Rafael Torres: Can you please explain your journey to the NBA and the adversity you endured.
Xavier Silas: My Journey has been one for the books. A lot of ups and downs. Prep school, 2 universities, D league, France, Israel, Argentina, Greece (my favorite, I loved it there). Adapting, growing as a player, and really overcoming everything that has been thrown my way is what makes me excited about my future. No matter what I’m going to bounce back. I fractured my skull and I’m still here.
Rafael Torres: When did you realize you were talented enough to play in the NBA?
Xavier Silas: Some time in high school. I think going into my junior year I realized I can do this if I give it my all.
Rafael Torres: Who was the hardest player to guard that you’ve played against?
Xavier Silas: Chauncey Billups
Rafael Torres: How challenging is it to play in another country?
Xavier Silas: It’s very different. It’s a challenge that I love stepping up to. Playing against those high level teams over there is what I love about it because they are so talented, team oriented, and fundamentally sound. It’s really fun playing that brand of basketball.
Rafael Torres: If there is anything you could go back and change. What would it be?
Xavier Silas: No there’s nothing I would change. I’ve learned so much from every turn. From every accomplishment and hardship. I’m really glad to be where I am right now. Wouldn’t change one thing.
Rafael Torres: Which team was your favorite team growing up?
Xavier Silas: I was a big Spurs and Lakers fan growing up.
Rafael Torres: How hard was it to not here your name called on draft night and did it inspire you to work harder?
Xavier Silas: It wasn’t very hard because I was on the phone with Philly when the last pick was being called. I didn’t really have much time to be upset because they told me they want me to come in right then and there.
Rafael Torres: What word of advice can you give young players who one day hope of being in the NBA?
Xavier Silas: Live right off of the court and work hard on the court and the sky is the limit. But the key to everything is being selfless and helping others in your spare time. If you do those things you’ll be golden.
Rafael Torres: Do you think you deserve to be in the NBA this upcoming season? If so which team do you think you could help out the most?
Xavier Silas: I think whatever God has in store for me I will be ready to attack it with enthusiasm and dedication. No one will sacrifice more than me. No one will focus more than me. And no one will put in the work I will put in. No matter where I am that’s my attitude.
After our interview with Xavier we got on the phone with Joe Connelly:
Rafael Torres: How confident are you in Xavier Silas shot making ability?
Joe Connelly: Extremely confident simply because of the fact that he’s a gym rat who works at it none stop he’s a true artist, he has an outside shot and he’s been known as a shooter but he can also defend.
Rafael Torres: Have you ever seen Xavier go up against anyone in the NBA? and if so how did he do?
Joe Connelly: Yeah I’ve seen him go up against guys in the NBA and top level Euro guys and he’s held his own. He’s made an improvement as a defender and thats something that could help him out.
Rafael Torres: Since you’ve worked some NBA players out, do you believe Xavier belongs in the league?
Joe Connelly: Without a doubt his ability to knock down threes is his calling card. I definitely think theres a spot for him in the NBA it is just a matter of the right opportunity and time.
Rafael Torres: Can you name us a few teams that should be looking at Xavier?
Joe Connelly: I can’t really come up with any of the top of my head but any team that needs a knockdown shooter could use him.
Rafael Torres: Now on to you; we noticed you are coaching in The Basketball Tournament, do you think you’d be a good coach in the NBA?
Joe Connelly: Hard to say, these are two different formats. The NBA is a long season but this has been a more enjoyable experience.
Rafael Torres: Do you see yourself in another position in the league?
Joe Connelly: The season is so long and I have 3 kids nine or younger and for me family is more important.
Rafael Torres: Your brother Tim is the Denver Nuggets GM, how do you feel about his recent moves such as drafting Mudiay and trading Ty Lawson?
Joe Connelly: I think he’s made some incredible moves. He has been changing the culture there and two things he has done that haven’t got enough attention is restructuring the deals of Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari with those two guys he has two talented veterans who want to play there and he’s done a great job in doing that.
Rafael Torres: Do you feel like Xavier could help the Nuggets out as they seem to be in need of some perimeter offense from the guard spot?
Joe Connelly: He can help any NBA team who gives him a shot I don’t know if Denver will be the best place for him because they have 15 guys under contract but I believe he can come in and help any team in the league.
After the interview we continued to chat with the Xavier Silas, and got to know him a little better. We chatted about his experiences – he has the right attitude to succeed and contribute in the NBA today. Xavier can add depth to a contender or help a rebuilding team on the wing. We took some time and thought about some teams that could use Xavier Silas and his shooting ability. The Cleveland Cavaliers, San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers are the teams that come to mind who could use shooters off of their benches. The NBA is all about opportunities and with the right opportunity Silas could become a very good rotational player for any team in the league. Joe Connelly told us about how Xavier Silas has improved drastically on defense and he thinks that Xavier’s improved defense and shot making ability should help him find a spot on an NBA roster sooner rather than later.
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