Xavier Silas to play in the BIG3 Sunday in Chicago

DeKALB – Xavier Silas, a 2011 First Team All-MAC honoree and member of NIU’s 1,000-career-point club, will play Sunday in the BIG3, a professional 3-on-3 basketball league in its inaugural season this summer, in Chicago.

The action will tip off at 2 p.m. at the UIC Pavilion, 525 S. Racine Ave.

Silas, the fourth overall pick in the BIG3 Draft, is coming off a 17-point output for the Ball Hogs last weekend in Philadelphia, after being involved in the league’s first trade.

After his two seasons at NIU, Silas has played professionally in six countries, including a stint with the Washington Wizards in 2012. Silas spent the 2016-17 season with the Northern Arizona Suns in the NBA Development League, where he averaged 15.4 points and 2.9 rebounds a game.

This week, NIUHuskies.com caught up with Silas ahead of his return appearance to Chicago.

How did you become involved with the BIG3?
Silas: Their director of basketball operations, Joe Connelly, reached out and thought that I would be good for it. He was a player development guy when I was with the Washington Wizards, and he thought that I would be a good fit for this league and it would be a great springboard back into the NBA for me.

What is 3-on-3 basketball like? How is it different from 5-on-5?
Silas: There is a lot more space, which is beneficial for the offense and a lot tougher for the defense. There is not as much help (on defense). In 5-on-5, you have four more people on the court, so they are there to help you and it changes the spacing.

Also (in the BIG3) it’s only to 50, so every time you play one of these games, it’s like starting in the third quarter of a 5-on-5 game. The halftime is at 25, and it is downhill after halftime. You have to take it seriously. The possessions are a lot more important in this game. It is a lot different, but it is fun.

What was it like being part of the first trade in BIG3 history?
Silas: I had a hand in the trade a little bit. It was a better situation with [the Ball Hogs], Rick Barry (Ball Hogs head coach), and Brian Scalabrine, Josh Childress, Rasual Butler and Derrick Byars. It fit a little bit more for me. They need a ball-handler, and they needed someone who could run the team from the point guard position and still be a threat. It’s a great fit. Being in the first trade ever in the BIG3, I think this is going to be a successful thing, so I’ll always go down in history for that, which is awesome.

What is it like playing for Rick Barry and with longtime NBA players such as Brian Scalabrine?
Silas: It’s fun. Rick Barry is one of the most prolific scorers ever to play the game. Being able to play for him and with the guys that are on our team, I can’t ask for more. It has been an amazing experience and, like I’ve said, it is just a lot of fun. This time of year, you are usually just working out, doing skill training, so to be able to travel with my family to different places and play competitively in these cities in front of all these people has been a lot of fun.

What has the atmosphere been like for game days with the BIG3?
Silas: Any given day, you are going to have a lot of stars courtside. Some cities in the NBA don’t get this many celebrities at games. When Russell Westbrook walks in, or James Harden walks in, it means that something is going on where they are doing it right. Being able to be entertainment for people who have been entertaining us for so long is a special feeling.

What has your professional journey been like since NIU?
Silas: I went to France during the lockout (in 2011-12) and came back to play with the 76ers. I spent time with the Washington Wizards. I actually just got back from a Clippers workout not too long ago. I went to the championship with the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Summer League last year. I have spent some time in different countries, and I’ve been really close to being called up again from the D-League. The first time I was called up I was in Maine. There has been a lot going on, it has been a great journey, it’s been fun and I’m still playing.

I want to let all the Huskies know that I’m still playing professionally and doing stuff on a big level. I want to give guys coming to NIU, and the guys that are already there, a little motivational push that you can make money coming from Northern Illinois. You can get to the NBA from Northern Illinois, if you work hard enough.

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