Clipboard Conversations: Xavier Silas, Northern Illinois

12 May

Norther Illinois wing Xavier Silas was one of the top scorers in the nation. Is that enough to get him drafted in June?

By Justin Young
National Hoops Report

Xavier Silas was one of the leading scorers in the country this season for Northern Illinois, posting 22.3 points a game. He was the eighth leading scorer in the nation.

Silas has worked out for the New York Knicks and participated in the New Jersey Nets workout. He will work out for the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday. New Jersey and New York will probably bring him back for another work.

Silas is currently in Las Vegas working out with guru Joe Abunassar with Impact Basketball. Silas has signed an agent, Lance Young, with Octagon. Young represents Steph Curry, Wes Matthews, Rudy Gay, David West and others.

The National Hoops Report caught up with Silas and talked about his future, his career and much more.

NATIONAL HOOPS REPORT: Talk to me about the New Jersey workout. What was the feedback on that experience?

XAVIER SILAS: “They were surprised by my defense and they were intrigued by it. They are real interested in that. They know I can score. They know that’s what I can do. That’s the main thing. They said they liked the defense and they like my intangibles. They said I tested well. So, overall, they liked my showing. They said I did myself well by going.”

NHR: Like you said, people know that you can score the basketball so how important is the next month just showing teams that you can do other things than just putting the ball in the basket?

XS: “You know what, it’s kind of a thin line because people want to see a lot of different things but at the same time I’ve heard teams tell me ‘Just go and do what you know how to do and don’t get lost in trying to show scouts certain things.’ I’m trying to find a healthy balance. I’m trying to clear my mind and just go play. That’s the biggest part. I have to play as hard as I can not worry about what I’m doing. I have to do what I do.”

NHR: The New Jersey experience was an interesting concept. It had almost this American Idol feeling of 40 some odd players all playing for a couple of spots. What was the whole dynamic like amongst the players in that type of setting?

XS: “The good players around the nation pretty much know each other. You play against each other all over the place so there were a lot of familiar faces there of guys I had already met. Everyone knew each other so it was way more encouraging than I thought it was going to be. We were just trying to hype each other up and get each other going as hard as we could. It’s kind of like a team effort out there.”

NHR: “What do you think about that concept – the NBA Draft combine for a lack of better team? We see it work with the NFL. In basketball we don’t see these types of things like we do in football. As a player, what were you able to get from that type of camp?

XS: “They know its only one day and time is kind of restricted and they know you aren’t really in your element when you do certain drills. They take all of that into consideration when they are evaluating you. Its not like it’s a make or break down. It doesn’t come down to that one day when you are in front of everyone. Its easy for people to think that it is about that one showing but it really isn’t. The NBA teams want to see you compete and see you up close and personal. I had a couple of teams tell me they were glad they came because they were able to see me up close and personal because I was bigger than they saw on tape. So there’s that angle, too. I like the idea of that many people in one place at one time because you get to compare guys right there up next to each other. It was a good deal.”

NHR: Can you play the role of the NBA scout for a minute and say who were the players there that stood out to you?

XS: “You know impressed me was Gary Flowers from Southern Miss. He played well. John Diebler played well. He surprised me with his defense. He defended better than I thought he would. A lot of guys didn’t stand out too much but the competition was good. Shots just weren’t really falling across the board. There was so much talent on the court it could have gone any way really. You could say everyone had their moments.”

NHR: You mentioned that your agent also represents Wes Matthews of the Portland Trail Blazers. He was an undrafted free agent and is having success for a playoff team. Have you talked to him about his path to the NBA and what he learned from it all given that you are projected as a second round pick or not even being drafted?

XS: “It is so hard to try to make sure you are drafted because it has so much to do with team’s needs and teams trading for picks and who has picks and who is available. I talked to Wes. He was actually who helped me pick Lance and Octagon. He gave me some advice on some things. With the whole draft deal, its only one day of your career and a lot of guys get caught up in it being do or die. Just like Wes’s situation, it was only one day in his career. He kept grinding and now he’s getting more money than Blake Griffin is. You know it is all about the grind. All of the scouts said I’m going to be fine and that I’m going to be in the NBA. I just have to wait on the right situation. I’m not worried about it. That’s what keeps me going. They like my motor. They like my defense. They know I can shoot and score. I don’t worry about draft day too much because I know I will end up in the same place as everyone else.”

NHR: Going from Colorado to Northern Illinois, you found a situation that was right for you. You had a lot of success at NIU. What lessons did you learn while there at Northern Illinois? You had to be the focus of everyone’s best defender night in and night out.

XS: “You hit the nail on the head. People will always say, ‘Oh, he went to Northern Illinois. Of course he averaged over 20 points a game.’ When I watched Kemba and The Jimmer, the two guys that were battling for that scoring title this year, it was so wide open for them. If you watched me at all, I was double teamed and triple teamed every game just because the talent level on my team wasn’t like UConn and BYU. They have to stay honest at those places. They were one and four overall in the country in scoring. It is tough to go to a small school and go out on the court knowing that the defensive schemes is to stop him and let everyone else beat us every single night. It was a good experience. It taught me how to persevere and be resilient. It taught me how to be tough because I had two or three guys coming at me every single play. It was a good experience. Everything happens for a reason and I am glad I went through it because I saw how to play in the Big 12 and I was successful and I saw how to play in different situations where you had to adapt. I don’t think a lot of guys had the experience that I had.”

NHR: You follow over 2,000 people on Twitter. Who is the most interesting person you follow on Twitter?

XS: “I would say it is a tie between Josh Selby and my coach Sundance Wicks. Josh, when he decided to stay in the draft he got a lot of heat for it. His responses were the best because he was willing to play anyone one on one who didn’t think he should stay in the draft. It was really funny that day. Sundance Wicks was an assistant coach at Northern but he moved out to Vegas with me and he’s going to be with me throughout the draft process and through the NBA thing. He is an inspiring guy. His tweets are kind of like mine – positive, optimistic and a little on the deeper side.”

NHR: What was toughest place to play in career in the Big 12 and when you were at Northern Illinois?

XS: “Kansas in the Big 12 for sure. Their fans are the best and everyone knows that. At Northern Illinois, we had an Akron and Kent State trip my junior year that was tough. I had a tough time there. I don’t know why. For starters they are the two best teams in the MAC…If I don’t ever have to go back to Kent State or Akron, I won’t. It was a dark feel. They are real tough teams. I have a lot of respect for Kent State because they play really hard and they are pretty good.”

NHR: You played at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire. You played college ball in Colorado and Illinois. As a Texas guy, are you tired of seeing the snow?

XS: “I can deal with snow. I’ve been through it. Being in that heat in Texas isn’t any better. Pick your poison. Not a lot of places get colder than it did in New Hampshire. I’ll tell you that right now.”

NHR: What’s the most embarrassing artist you have on you iPod? Are there times when you have the shuffle going and you hear a song and you wonder how in the world it made its way onto your iPod?

XS: “I might have some Katy Perry. I’m not going to lie. I have the California Girls and the other song. I think I have a few of those.”

NHR: What’s the best taunt you’ve heard from a fan?

XS: “I was at Central Michigan and my fan club on Facebook just started. This guy says ‘Hey, Xavier, I saw your Facebook club. There are two people in it.’ I was shooting a free throw and I almost laughed right there on the free throw line.”

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