NIU's Silas makes NBA debut

Xavier Silas will never forget the 40-hour span of his life between Tuesday morning and Wednesday evening.

Silas awoke in Arizona at 6 a.m. on Tuesday to a phone call offering him a spot on Philadelphia 76ers’ roster for the remainder of the season. By 10 a.m., he was on a flight to join the team in Milwaukee. Finally on Wednesday night, he made his NBA debut, scoring five points on 2-of-5 shooting in 19 minutes in a 76ers’ win over the Milwaukee Bucks.

“It’s all happened so fast,” Silas said by phone just hours prior to Wednesday’s game. “I didn’t really get to feel anything. I got the call at 6 a.m. (Tuesday), and I was on a flight at 10. All I can feel is happiness right now. I’m probably the happiest person ever.”

It’s a moment Silas has had to wait patiently for since finishing his collegiate career at Northern Illinois last season, but he never lost faith would happen.

Silas was not selected in the 2011 NBA draft, but he was contacted by the 76ers just seconds after the draft ended. His plan was to wait out the NBA lockout while working out in the United States, but he ended up signing a contract in September to play in France. He returned home in December for the 76ers’ training camp, but didn’t make their NBA roster and went to play for the Maine Red Claws, the 76ers’ NBA Development League affiliate.

Silas averaged 9.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.5 assist in 39 games for the Red Claws. He also shot .401 from the floor, .295 from 3-point range and .787 from the free-throw line. His final game with them was on April 7, and he had returned to Scottsdale, Ariz. to train.

“We’ve always stayed positive with everything, just had faith in myself and the journey,” said Silas, who is the son of former NBA player James Silas. “That’s all we were doing. We never lost in what we were doing.”

But as monumental as Silas anticipated his NBA debut to be on Wednesday, he deemed it just the beginning.

“My goal wasn’t just to be in the NBA, but to be successful in the NBA,” Silas said. “We still have some work to do.”