Chris Silva would not be the first player from Gabon to make it to the NBA.
He would like to be the first to remain for more than a handful of games.
Silva took part in a pre-NBA draft workout with the Hawks on Tuesday, his next step in pursuit of a dream that began as a 13-year old in Africa. Silva, a 6-foot-9, 234 pound senior forward from the University of South Carolina, impressed Hawks staff with his outside shooting. The development of a 3-point shot was a key area of needed improvement following his junior season when Silva first tested the NBA waters.
“I want to be the one who makes it to the league, work hard, stay and make history for my country,” Silva told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Gabon native Stephane Lasme played 16 NBA games during the 2007-08 season with the Warriors and Heat. He was drafted in the second round, No. 46 overall, by the Warriors that year. He bounced around in the G League and Europe after his brief stint in the league.
During his junior season at South Carolina, Silva was part of a Gamecocks team that advanced to the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. South Carolina had upsets over Duke, Baylor and Florida en route to the championship weekend. The run ended with a 77-73 loss to Gonzaga in the national semifinal.
After the season, Silva entered his name in the NBA draft without hiring an agent. He had workouts with the Bucks, Celtics, Nets and Thunder. The feedback he received was to develop a 3-point shot and finish stronger at the rim. Silva took the advice and returned for another season under Frank Martin at South Carolina. He was named All-SEC and SEC All-Defensive Team for the second straight year. Last season he averaged 15.2 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks (fourth in the SEC).
“After my junior year season, it’s always been my dream to come to the NBA,” Silva said. “I wanted to try it, see how it goes and test the waters. It was a lot of fun working out with teams, being in building that back home I always dreamed to be. I told my coach I’m ready to come back for another season.”
In his first three collegiate seasons, Silva was 5 of 13 from 3-point range. Last season, he went 23 of 46 from behind the arc.
Silva said Martin did not consider his need to improve his 3-point shot a detriment to the college objective.
“If he knows you’ve been working on that shot, take it,” Silva said. “He won’t be mad. But if it’s something that you don’t come to the gym and work on, don’t take it.”
Silva came to the United States to attend Roselle Catholic High School in New Jersey. By his senior season he had several Division I scholarship offers but chose South Carolina to play for Martin. It’s been a long journey that started as a youngster who had never played organized basketball.
Tuesday was Silva’s first workout for an NBA team in his second go-around before the draft. He expects to have more but needs to work around his school schedule at South Carolina, where he is majoring in Information Technology.
The Hawks also worked out Cal State Fullerton guard Kyle Allman Jr., Nevada forward Jordan Caroline, Alabama forward Donta Hall, North Carolina State guard Markell Johnson (early entry) and Nevada forward Tre’Shawn Thurman on Tuesday. There will be many more workouts until the Draft lottery on May 14 and the Draft on June 20.