USC Men's Basketball

USC’s Chris Silva navigates draft prep process. 2 more visits with NBA teams set

Chris Silva makes his NBA pitch

Former South Carolina forward Chris Silva talks ahead of going through the 2019 NBA Draft process.
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Former South Carolina forward Chris Silva talks ahead of going through the 2019 NBA Draft process.

He’s been to the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament in Virginia, the Professional Basketball Combine in California and to NBA practice facilities in Minneapolis and Atlanta. But on the weekend of May 10, Chris Silva put his draft prep on pause to be in Columbia, South Carolina.

“My agent made sure workouts were happening after graduation,” Silva said. “I told him I had to finish school first.”

Add a degree in interdisciplinary studies to top off Silva’s USC résumé. Seven years after arriving in America from Africa not knowing any English, Silva walked across the stage at Colonial Life Arena, diploma in hand.

“It means a great deal,” Silva said. “Just four years of work finally getting paying off.”

One life goal down. Another to go.

Silva told The State that he’s scheduled upcoming visits to the Charlotte Hornets and Sacramento Kings. This comes not long after performing at the Pro Basketball Combine and interviewing with the Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers, New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento.

The two-time All-SEC forward stays busy as the NBA draft approaches.

“I’m still going through the process,” Silva said. “The teams I’ve worked out with have given good feedback through my agent. I really improved my outside shot, my fadeaway shot. And I’m getting better in the post.”

Silva, who measured 6-foot-10 in shoes at the PBC (an inch taller than his listed height at USC), worked out for the Hawks on April 30 and for the Timberwolves on May 9. In Atlanta, he was kneed in the thigh during a defensive drill and could barely walk after the workout.

“The Atlanta workout was still good and they gave good feedback,” Silva said. “They love the way I shot the ball, my energy and the way I talk.”

He was bruised, though, and it limited his preparation for the Timberwolves.

“It was kind of difficult,” Silva said. “It was a lot of running. And knowing that I didn’t prepare that much for the workout, I was getting a little tired after a couple runs. But it wasn’t that bad. I think I shot the ball pretty well. But that’s the stuff that happens, you know?”

At the PBC, a secondary draft combine that still attracted NBA and G League personnel, Silva scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a scrimmage. He also had a max vertical leap of 37 inches and made 48 percent of his NBA range 3-point attempts.

“If there’s a guy that’s 6-10 and with a 37-inch vert, there’s incredible potential to move on,” said Jake Kelfer, the PBC’s founder and director. “The other thing I thought was pretty impressive was his shot, it’s better than I originally expected. I didn’t notice him taking too many NBA range shots this season. But he put the ball in the hole really well, he showed some things that I think will help with his translate ability to the next level.”

Kelfer, who used to work with the Los Angeles Lakers, said Silva is trending toward becoming a two-way contract candidate. Former Gamecock P.J. Dozier signed such an agreement with the Boston Celtics last August. A two-way contract means a player spends a bulk of their season in the G League and no more than 45 days with their NBA team.

“(NBA) Summer League is going to be something he’ll definitely be able to participate in,” Kelfer said. “And I think pending a good performance there, I think he’s gonna really be able to showcase that he’s one of the next best players around here. I think a two-way’s definitely in the realm of possibility for him.”

Silva said the PBC, which included fellow former Gamecock Hassani Gravett, was a chance to “make my point that I’m a good player in front of NBA scouts.”

The two-round, 60-pick draft is June 20.

“I hope this goes the way it’s supposed to go and I get drafted at the end of the process,” Silva said.

Andrew Ramspacher has been covering college athletics since 2010, serving as The State’s USC men’s basketball beat writer since October 2017. His work has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors, Virginia Press Association and West Virginia Press Association. At a program-listed 5-foot-10, he’s always been destined to write about the game. Not play it.
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