Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Injury forces NIU's Silas to adjust
By Scott Powers
With his college career apparently over, Xavier Silas has his sights set on the NBA.
DEKALB, Ill. -- Xavier Silas may never play another college basketball game.
He's learning to accept that.
Already sidelined for the past three Northern Illinois games due to a severe ankle sprain and bruised fibula, Silas will also miss the Huskies' MAC tournament opener on Tuesday. If Northern Illinois loses to Bowling Green, which odds makers expect, Silas' season and career will be over.
"This is one of the things that happens," the 6-5 senior guard said. "I've grown up around the game, been around my dad [former NBA player James Silas] and people who have played, and it comes along with the territory.
"You get an injury, and you have to move on. You can't let it affect your everyday life."
That's easier said than done for Silas. Basketball has always comprised a significant part of his life. He grew up watching basketball, playing basketball, talking basketball. He's spent countless hours, days, months and years from an early age perfecting his game.
So for Silas to be forced by an injury to walk away from his college career, especially from this season in which he was among the nation's leading scorers, isn't so simple.
"It's a difficult situation, but I have been focusing on not dwelling on things I can't control," Silas said. "I can't play if I want to. It's something you have to come to terms with. Life is about coming to terms with certain things, and this is one of them."
Whether Silas plays another college game, he will look back on this season with mixed feelings. As a team, the Huskies had their struggles, winning just nine games. Individually, Silas was consistent throughout the season. He scored 20 or more points in 17 games and is currently averaging 22.3 points.
More than the points this season, Silas' main objective was to become a more efficient player. If he was going to have a 30-point evening, he wanted to do so by taking the fewest shots possible.
"I didn't want to be a volume shooter," Silas said. "I didn't want to be leading the country and shoot 24 times a game. I know on the next level the minutes may go down, and efficiency is very important."
Silas accomplished what he set out to. He dropped 39 points on Akron by shooting 9 of 17 from the field. He scored 34 against DePaul on 12-of-17 accuracy. He was 8 of 18 from the field when he scored 40 points against UIC.
Silas shot .459 from the field, .851 from the line and .413 from 3-point range. Among the nation's top 10 scorers, Silas ranks third in field-goal percentage, second in free-throw percentage and second in 3-point percentage.
"I think it's been a year where I've had a lot of individual success," Silas said. "I've worked really hard, and I can see my hard work coming through and being shown in my performance. I think I played well and efficient. That's all I can ask of myself."
Silas put up those numbers despite being the main focus of nearly every opponent. Northern Illinois coach Ricardo Patton believes Silas will shine even more when he is surrounded by more talent.
"I think it's unfortunate we don't have enough guys to complement him and make the game easier," Patton said. "I would like to see him on a team where he had a really, really good point guard. The team we have has put him in somewhat of a quandary because he's had to do so much night in and night out. Where he has a chance to be around guys who can complete him better, he'll look even more of a high level."
The high level Silas has his sights on is the NBA. It's actually what he's been shooting for since he can remember. Some children have fathers who are policemen, so they want to be policemen. Silas sought to be a NBA player because of his father.
"I wanted to be like my father," Silas said. "We all sat down when I was in sixth or seventh grade and made these goals for me. That's what I wanted to do."
Silas' NBA fate is uncertain right now. ESPN's Chad Ford has Silas as his 148th NBA draft prospect and going anywhere from the second round to undrafted. Silas' scoring and shooting abilities will likely interest some teams enough to give him a further look.
"Most scouts I've spoken with call him intriguing," Patton said. "I think for sure he'll have an opportunity to go to certain workout for some teams. He'll have some opportunities. He was invited to Portsmouth, and that's where it'll start for him."
Silas knows there are people who question whether he can play in the NBA. He's out to prove them wrong.
"A lot of people have said I can't do it," Silas said. "That's motivation in itself. I'm a good player. I believe I can show it on the biggest stage. I have to believe I can."