Silas declares for draft; likely to stay put

Northern Illinois junior guard Xavier Silas told ESPNChicago.com on Saturday that he has declared himself eligible for the NBA draft, but he will not hire an agent.

"I don't see why you wouldn't do it," said Silas, a 6-foot-5, 200-pound shooting guard. "Although they have made it ridiculously impossible for underclassmen with these new rules, I think I should try it and see what happens and go from there."

Under a new NCAA rule, Silas has until May 8 to withdraw his name from the draft and keep his college eligibility. Silas likely will return to Northern Illinois for his senior season, because he isn't projected by any draft analysts to be selected early on, but he said he would weigh his options if an NBA team showed a liking to him.

"With the new rules, [the NCAA] is trying to discourage underclassmen from testing the waters," Silas said. "It has me nervous, scared. I do know that I'm not going to get a fair assessment in that time period.

"This whole thing is nerve-wracking. The teams have never done it before. The players have never done it before. At the same time, it's me entering the NBA fraft. It's exciting. You dream about this."

As a junior, Silas averaged 19.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.5 blocks and 0.8 steals for the Huskies, who went 10-20. Silas played his first two seasons at Colorado.

"Judging from the year we had at Northern Illinois and not winning, I think I could see myself coming back because proving I can win and lead a team is a big deal," Silas said. "I think it would add to my stock. I could see myself coming back, but you never know what happens. I'm leaving an open mind. You can't say going into it, 'I'm going back to school.' Having that mentality won't help you in the workouts."

With little time to ultimately make a decision and prepare for possible workouts with NBA teams, Silas plans to leave Northern Illinois' campus soon and join a group of players in San Francisco, Calif., to work with fitness trainer Frank Matrisciano and former NBA coach Bob Hill.

Blake Griffin, last year's No. 1 pick, is among Matrisciano's and Hill's past clients.

Silas is familiar with the trainers. Through his father, James Silas, a former ABA and NBA player, Silas has known Hill since he was 15 years old. He also trained 10 weeks last summer with Matrisciano and Hill in San Francisco.

James Silas, who was called "Captain Late" for his late-game heroics with the San Antonio Spurs, has been involved in the advising process with his son and had approved the decision.

"We want to see exactly where he stands as far as what he needs to work on, just the little things he needs to tighten up to get better, just to see where he stands up against other guys," James Silas said. "I know that he wants to see what people are saying about him."

James also believes his son has the ability to play in the NBA, whether it's next season or the following one.

"I believe he does," James said. "I really do. With the right team, I really do. When I look at the league today, it's a tough business. I think he needs to tighten up his ball-handling. Guys that are 6-5 now are point guards. If he tightens up his ball-handling and defense, I think he could."

Xavier Silas also is confident.

"I definitely feel like I can," Silas said. "I think I have all the tools. I think I have the work ethic. I believe it'll happen, whether it's this year or next.

"Just to see how things are done, this will be a good experience. Anytime you can talk to anyone affiliated with the NBA, it's always good. You always come back with something good."

Silas had an up and down first season with Northern Illinois. After sitting out last season following his transfer to Northern Illinois, he fractured his right hand during his Huskies' regular-season debut and was immediately sidelined. He returned on Dec. 15 and struggled his first weeks back.

Silas had a breakout game against Temple with 26 points in late December and had nine more games of 24 or more points. He also went through a four-game slide in the MAC season where he shot 12-of-51. He was named to the conference's honorable mention team.

"I think I had a good year," Silas said. "I played well coming off that injury. I think my season would have been different if I hadn't broken my hand.

"I think next year I could compete for the nation's scoring title. I was up there this year before I hit a slump midseason. That's the only thing that brought me down. I was up in the 24 to 25 [ppg] range. It wouldn't be my focus next season, but being older, having another year under my belt, having another summer, not having that injury, it would be feasible."

If he returns, of course.

Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at spowers@espnchicago.com.