Chris Silva is coming back.
Just over a month after he declared for the NBA draft – without hiring an agent – Silva has decided to return to South Carolina for his senior season.
“I’m thankful for the experience of going through the draft process,” Silva said Monday in a USC news release. “I want to thank all of the teams that gave me the opportunity to work out for their organization. I’m excited to announce that I’m returning to South Carolina for my senior season. I can’t wait to get back on the court with my brothers and continue to work on my game.”
Silva, a 6-foot-9, 223-pound forward who made first-team All-SEC and was named the league's co-defensive player of the year as a junior, had workouts with at least the Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets. He was not among the 69 invitees to last week's NBA combine, held in Chicago. That was likely a strong sign of where he stood when it comes to teams selecting in the two-round draft on June 21.
“I think everybody loves his energy and his intensity level,” ESPN draft analyst Jonathan Givony told The State in April. “Any time you’re a guy that plays as hard as he does, that’s impressive.
“But I don’t know if he’s really shown what separates him at this stage. You’re watching the NBA playoffs and there really isn’t much of market these days for big guys who aren’t really good passers or outside shooters. You have to have something that really separates you in today’s NBA, and I’m not really sure he’s shown what it is yet, besides his just his sheer energy and toughness and intensity.”
Silva averaged a team-high 14.3 points, 8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks for USC in 2017-18. He led the country in free-throw rate and finished second nationally in fouls drawn per 40 minutes.
He also led the Gamecocks in turnovers (87) and fouled out of five games. He’s attempted 13 3-pointers in his career, connecting on five of them.
“Going through the evaluation process was an unbelievable experience for Chris and us,” said Carolina coach Frank Martin. “He comes back to a place he loves with some knowledge on some of the things that we have to help him improve on in his efforts to one day fulfill his lifelong dream of playing in the NBA.”
There are several examples of college players declaring for the draft one year, but coming back to school and improving their stock the next. The list includes 2017 first-round picks Justin Jackson of North Carolina, Caleb Swanigan of Purdue and Josh Hart of Villanova.
Silva is a likely preseason SEC player of the year candidate for 2018-19. His return boosts a roster that has two open scholarships remaining. That number could grow to three should Brian Bowen, a Gamecock freshman who also declared early, remain in the draft. The deadline is May 30.