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Miami Herald: Family is Heat Rookie Chris Silva’s Motivation

Heat rookie Chris Silva’s motivation? Family and the dream to one day be reunited.

By Anthony Chiang

Running can be symbolic of so many things.

For Heat forward Chris Silva, running is symbolic of his unique journey and hope to one day be reunited with his family.

The undrafted rookie describes himself as more of the long-distance type who is known for his two-mile runs following basketball workouts. Silva prefers to run on a track or any circular path.

That’s where the symbolism comes in.

“It just unblocks my head. All I think about is making it,” Silva said of running. “There’s something about it. I like to do a circle because when I get tired in a circle, I know I can’t stop here. I have to finish to get back to the house.”

Playing under a two-way contract with the Heat, Silva (6-8, 234 pounds) is currently on his own circular path trying to make it back home to his family. He’s averaging 4.2 points and 4.3 rebounds in 18 games in his first NBA season.

A native of Gabon, Africa, Silva left his home country in 2012 just days away from turning 16 to come to the United States with a dream of making it to the NBA. He has seen his parents and siblings only once since then, and that was when he returned to Gabon for two weeks to renew his visa as a sophomore at the University of South Carolina.

“Two weeks felt like two days, to be honest,” said Silva, 23, of his lone trip back to Africa to visit his mother, father and three brothers. “I don’t think anybody besides my uncle has ever seen me play basketball.”

Silva’s uncle, Miguel, will watch him play again Wednesday when the Heat faces the Celtics at TD Garden. The Heat (14-5) begins a challenging back-to-back set Tuesday against the Raptors at Scotiabank Arena.

Miguel, who is Silva’s legal guardian, lives in Boston and is one of Silva’s only relatives in the United States. The two have been through a lot together.

Miguel stayed up all night to track the four different flights Silva took to first arrive to the United States from Gabon. Silva didn’t speak English and had never been on an airplane before that long trek, with Miguel worried he would get lost along the way.

Once Silva made it to the United States to attend and play basketball at Roselle Catholic High in New Jersey, there were tough times Miguel had to talk Silva through. Silva was homesick almost immediately.

“He felt lonely. He wanted to see his mom, his dad,” Miguel recalls. “But he couldn’t make it. I remember at some point, the high school told me he had been down and they wanted to send him home to see his family. I said, ‘No, I’m going to talk to him because he just got here.’ I didn’t want him to want to go back right away.”

Miguel told Silva: “It’s a struggle, I understand. You feel lonely. I also got to the point after three months that I wanted to go back home, too. You’re going to be fine. You got good people who love you.”

Now, Miguel sends daily updates to their family in Gabon regarding Silva’s accomplishments — from being voted onto the SEC’s All-Defensive team in each of his final two seasons at South Carolina to playing for the Heat as an undrafted rookie.

While attending the Heat’s Oct. 23 season opener against the Grizzlies at AmericanAirlines Arena, Miguel sent a short video to the family of Heat public address announcer Michael Baiamonte introducing Silva when he entered his first regular-season NBA game.

“I have to update the family pretty much every day,” Miguel said. “They try to watch him play online, but the internet is so messed up over there. Now they have WhatsApp, so I can take a picture or record a video and send it to them.”

The time change also makes it difficult for Silva’s family to watch any of his games. A 7:30 p.m. Heat home game begins at 1:30 a.m. in Gabon.

“It’s a luxury to have cable in Gabon, especially to have those channels for those games,” Miguel said.

Silva has grown accustomed to going through life on his own, though. It has been seven years since he arrived in the United States.

“After spending all these years doing it by myself, I kind of got a hang of it,” Silva said. “But it would be nice. I don’t want to say being away from them is difficult, but it would be nice once something is hard or I have a good game to go home and see my mom. Talk to somebody in the family.”

View the full story on Miami Herald.

Miami Herald: Heat converts forward Chris Silva to two-way deal. Here’s why he has drawn Haslem comparisons

By David Wilson and Anthony Chiang

Chris Silva’s impressive preseason has earned him one of the Heat’s two available two-way contracts.

The Heat awarded the forward with a two-way contract following its preseason finale Friday in Miami, a league source confirmed. Silva played 12 minutes, scored three points, grabbed three rebounds and dished out an assist in the 144-133 loss to the Rockets at AmericanAirlines Arena.

The Associated Press first reported the news on Silva, who went undrafted out of South Carolina this year.

Two-way contracts allow a player to spend up to 45 days with an NBA team during the G League season and the rest of the time must be spent with the team’s developmental affiliate, and the contract prevents the player from being signed by another NBA team. Silva is expected to spend most of the season with the Heat’s G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce.

Silva, 23, finished the preseason averaging 5.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 0.4 blocks in 9.8 minutes per game. He played in each of the Heat’s five tune-ups, and his best performance came in the preseason opener with 16 points, nine rebounds and two blocks.

Silva has drawn comparisons to Heat veteran forward Udonis Haslem because of play style and the fact they both played for Frank Martin, who coached Silva with the Gamecocks and Haslem at Miami High.

“In terms of the ferocity, the competitiveness, the aggressiveness on the glass … yeah, you can make those comparisons,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said earlier this week. “I mentioned that to Chris in one of our film sessions that just the way he approaches the game every single day with that competitive edginess to him is similar to the guy who’s going to have his number retired here.

“That’s a perfect example of somebody who may have had to do it in a different way, not getting drafted and having to play overseas. But he fought and scratched and crawled his way back to be in this league, and he was not going to take no for an answer. Just from the little bit I’ve gotten to know Chris, I think he’s going to be similar. He’s going to make you have to make decisions. That’s what you want from young players.”

Silva said earlier this week of the Haslem comparisons: : “I get it so much. It’s crazy. I mean, I respect it because UD is my guy. He’s a vet and look at what he has done for this organization. There’s a lot of respect. His mentality is rock solid, so I try to learn a lot from him during practice and during training camp. He has just taught me so much. His leadership has been big time during this process.”

Silva is from Gabon in Central Africa and began living in the United States as a 16-year-old.

Silva is known for his defense, as he was the SEC’s Co-Defensive Player of the Year as a junior in 2017-18 and was voted onto the SEC’s All-Defensive team in each of his final two seasons at South Carolina. He finished his South Carolina career with 1,509 career points, which ranks 10th in program history, and also ranks sixth in rebounds (876), third in free throws made (577) and sixth in blocked shots (186).

The 6-foot-8, 230-pound athlete was one of six Heat players on an Exhibit 10 deal vying for a two-way contract, along with guards Daryl Macon, Bubu Palo, Davon Reed and Skyler Flatten, and forward Kyle Alexander.

The Heat currently has 20 players on its roster, but there will be cuts made soon. NBA teams have to trim their rosters down to 15 players (not counting the two two-way contract players) by Monday, which means making final decisions Saturday because of the 48-hour waiver period.

For the Heat, the only decision left is who will fill its one remaining two-way contract spot.

Miami is locked into 14 players on the regular-season roster to remain beneath the luxury-tax threshold, but it can hand out one more two-way contract. The Heat can either convert another one of its Exhibit 10 players to a two-way deal Saturday instead of waiving them, or waive each of the five remaining Exhibit 10 players on its roster and leave its other two-way slot open until another player it prefers becomes available.

The list of former Heat two-way contract players includes Matt Williams Jr., Derrick Walton Jr., Derrick Jones Jr., Yante Maten and Duncan Robinson.

Read the story in the Miami Herald.

Chris Silva Makes Waves in First Miami Heat Preseason Game

By Anthony Chiang

Forward Chris Silva, who is among those competing for a two-way contract from the Heat, impressed in his 14 minutes Tuesday. Undrafted out of South Carolina, Silva finished with 16 points, nine rebounds, two steals and two blocks.

“He made us watch him. That’s for sure,” Spoelstra said of Silva. “He’s had those moments in training camp, too. The offensive rebounding, the pursuits. He had a great block tonight. But he probably had five blocks better than that in training camp, where he shocked everybody in the gym. His efforts, his second jumps, his pursuits, all of these things, that’s a talent. That’s a skill to have a motor like that.”

To read the full recap, visit the Miami Herald.

IPZ Board Member Bob Hurley Named the Greatest Scholastic Coach in New Jersey History

The Greatest of All-Time

By Matthew Stanmyre

1. Bob Hurley, St. Anthony (boys basketball)

In 45 years as coach at St. Anthony, Hurley led the tiny Catholic school tucked in the shadows of Jersey City to 28 state championships, 13 Tournament of Champions titles, eight undefeated seasons, four national championships and 1,184 wins, establishing an unmatched legacy in New Jersey high school sports. In addition, more than 200 of Hurley’s players went on to play in college and several made it to the NBA. In 2010, he was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame. His career may have kept going, except St. Anthony, after years of struggling, shuttered in 2017 amid financial constraints.

To view the list of the top 10 New Jersey coaches, visit the Star Ledger.

The Athletic: Lexie Brown Finds a Home with the Lynx

After a discouraging year, Lexie Brown has found a family again with the Lynx

By Katie Davidson

As quickly as she can roll off a screen, set her feet and pop a 3-pointer in front of a defender’s face, Lexie Brown can tell you exactly where she was when she was traded to the Lynx.

The next chapter of the former Connecticut Sun player’s WNBA career began April 10 while she was at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. It was the night of the 2019 WNBA Draft, but Brown had agreed to spend her night taking her younger brother to an Atlanta Hawks game.

It was there that Brown got the game-changing news.

“I got a text from my agent, and she was like, ‘You’re about to get traded,’” Brown recalled. “Then she called me and told me it was the Lynx, and I was so excited.”

On draft night, excitement is typically reserved for rookies. But when Brown looks back on that night three months later, she remembers the trade with relief.

“I was super excited, and it’s funny because when I talk to some of my friends who play in the NBA or the WNBA who’ve been traded, it’s like a sad thing,” Brown said. “But everyone was like, ‘Congrats on the trade, we can’t wait for you.’ You don’t ever get congratulated on a trade like that.”

That’s because those close to Brown knew what the trade meant for her. One year earlier, she had been the ninth pick in the 2018 draft by the Connecticut Sun but then spent a frustrating rookie year languishing on the bench for a team that finished fourth in the league during the regular season. Instead of returning to Connecticut for another season in an environment where her worth was questioned and her playing time was sparse, the deal allowed Brown to become a key member of the Lynx, reigniting her sense of belonging in the WNBA.

“I didn’t think it was going to come around this fast,” she said, “but I’m glad it did.”

Read the full story on The Athletic.

Lexie Brown Featured in The Athletic WNBA

‘Not going to pity myself’: The realities of players cut from WNBA rosters and what the league can do to fix it

By Tamryn Spruill

Second-year guard Lexie Brown also understands just how difficult it is to make it at this level. A self-described “girlie girl,” Brown says her Lynx teammates affectionately call her Beyoncé. But they know not to let her passion for makeup and fashion belie her ferocity on the basketball court. When we spoke on Friday, Brown was dealing with what has become a frequent occupational hazard: her toenails peeling off.

“I’ll just tape them back on,” she said nonchalantly.

While at Duke, Brown started every game she played in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons (she played her first two years at Maryland). Her senior season, Brown averaged 19.4 points for the Blue Devils, along with 4.4 assists, 4.4 rebounds and almost four steals per game.

Picked ninth overall by the Connecticut Sun in the 2018 WNBA Draft, Brown played 22 of 34 regular-season games and saw her playing time drop to 5.6 minutes per game. She averaged just 1.7 points per game. But Brown credits the effort she displayed as rookie with keeping her on the Sun roster.

“I think my work ethic is what got me on the Sun and kept me there because they didn’t necessarily need me last season,” Brown said. “So, I’m very thankful for the Connecticut Sun organization and coaching staff that they felt I brought something to the table that they didn’t have. But they very well could have been like, ‘No, I think we’re okay,’ and picked someone else.”

The bright side for those who don’t make the cut, according to Brown, is overseas opportunities where players can “make money and come back and be even better” — professional experience that could help a player returning to the U.S. finally cross the velvet rope into the exclusive sports league. And she believes players should feel proud of their accomplishments, even if they didn’t make a roster.

“The players who can’t make the team, they shouldn’t think that they did anything wrong, or that they’re not good enough,” Brown said. “It’s not their time yet.”

Brown was traded to the Lynx in April, and is thrilled to have a fresh start on a team that won a championship as recently as 2017. That Minnesota currently is retooling presents Brown with an opportunity for increased minutes and to thrive in her new role as shooting guard.

The day after we spoke, the Lynx won their season-opener against the Chicago Sky, 89-71, and Brown contributed 10 points, two steals and 2-of-2 free throws to the team’s winning effort. She played 22 minutes, a big jump up from the limited time she got with the Sun.

Wednesday night against the defending-champion Seattle Storm, Brown recorded 10 points, four assists, one steal and one offensive rebound in just under 21 minutes.

While Dillard did not get to play in a game with Brown, she made an impression on Brown during training camp.

“Cierra was probably the only player (at Buffalo) with a high basketball IQ, so you pretty much can go and do whatever you want (against opponents),” Brown said, noting that everyone at the WNBA level has a “pretty high basketball IQ.”

In the WNBA, with true centers who know how to guard and teams that know how to execute effective defensive switches to box guards out, playmaking and scoring opportunities don’t come easily, and it’s the guards who can adjust to these rigors, Brown said, who keep their roster spots.

“I think we had a very guard-heavy training camp, and I think Cierra did really well,” Brown said. “I think she held her own. But I think Coach Reeve was looking for a bigger, longer lineup outside of D-Rob (Danielle Robinson) and O (Odyssey Sims), which is what we have — a pretty long team, from top to bottom. It’s nothing that (Dillard) did wrong. I think she was super incredible at Buffalo and I think she did really well in training camp.”

In addition to Dillard’s on-court efforts in practice, Brown also was complimentary of her attitude.

“She has the best, most positive attitude I’ve ever seen,” Brown gushed. “Good vibes, always. Even when she made a mistake, she was always open to criticism and learning and that’s something in this league that’s going to benefit her in the long run. Because, as good as she was in college, she came here really humble and eager and ready to learn.”

*Note that the above is just one section of the story, to read the full-version, visit The Athletic.

Lexie Brown Shared Her Pregame Playlist With espnW

By Natalie Gingerich Mackenzie

Second-year WNBA player Lexie Brown is off to a solid start this season, with 10 points in the Minnesota Lynx’s game against the Chicago Sky on Saturday. The Duke grad, who’s the daughter of former NBA guard Dee Brown, gave us the rundown on the music that gets her going pre-game.

“Before games, when I’m getting ready, it’s chill vibes only! It helps me get locked in and focused,” Brown told us. Currently on repeat: “Losing” by H.E.R.

“But once I step on the court to shoot and stretch, its turn-up time. Anyone who knows me knows that I dance everywhere. So we gotta play something I can dance to before game time. It loosens me up and relaxes any nerves I have.”

Her current playlist:

View the story on espnW.

Chris Silva Navigates Draft Prep Process

By Andrew Ramspacher

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.

View the story on TheState.com.

Cierra Dillard Chooses IPZ

BUFFALO, N.Y. + WARREN, N.J., April 9, 2019 – Cierra Dillard, Dawn Staley Award Finalist and AP All-American Honorable Mention, has signed with IPZ, the company announced today.

Standing at five-foot-nine, the Rochester, New York native has made a considerable impact for the University of Buffalo Bulls the past two seasons leading them to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments.

Going into Dillard’s senior year, the guard landed on numerous watch lists: the Wade Trophy (for the best player in women’s basketball), the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award (for the nation’s top shooting guard), the Citizen Naismith Trophy Watch, and the Dawn Staley Award (for the country’s top guard), for which she is one of four finalists.

Dillard did not disappoint. She was the nation’s second leading scorer this past season as she averaged 25.2 points per game, a team-high 5.7 assists per game, 4.9 rebounds per game, and 2.9 steals per game. The Bulls won the 2019 MAC Tournament and Dillard was named MAC Tournament MVP. Dillard closed out her collegiate career in the second round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament against the UCONN Huskies scoring 29 points, dishing seven assists, securing seven rebounds, and capturing three steals. Dillard earned AP All-American Honorable Mention honors and was named First Team All-MAC.

In Dillard’s junior year, she led the Bulls to their first ever Sweet 16 appearance. Ultimately, Buffalo fell to the defending National Champion South Carolina Gamecocks, but Dillard had a strong performance netting 29 points, six steals, six assists, and three rebounds. Dillard posted a 2017-18 stat line of 16.2 points/game, 5.2 assists/game, 4.1 rebounds/game, and 3.0 steals/game. She was named Second Team All-MAC and earned MAC All-Tournament Team honors.

Prior to becoming a Buffalo Bull, Dillard played for the University of Massachusetts Minutewomen. In her sophomore year, Dillard averaged 15.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 2.0 steals in 30.3 minutes per game. As a freshman, she posted 10.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.5 steals per contest.

Dillard amassed 2,205 career points across her stops with Massachusetts and the Bulls. Dillard finished her Buffalo career with a scoring average of 20.6 points per game over two seasons, a new program record, and currently ranks in the top five on the UB career records list in points (5th – 1,422), free throws made (3rd – 362), free throw percentage (3rd – 80.8%), three point field goals made (4th – 190) and three point field goals attempted (4th – 554).

“I’m excited to start my new journey of playing professional basketball,” said Dillard. “I’m thrilled about how great my amateur years were and I know if I work hard and stay dedicated, I will continue to reap God’s blessings in my professional career as well. I am also happy to be represented by IPZ, as they believe in my dreams both on and off the court. They understand my vision for my career and I’m confident they will do a great job helping and advising me every step of the way. They are passionate about helping their clients in their respective professional fields and want them to be the best they can be; I’m grateful and blessed to work together.”

“Cierra is one of the purest scorers I’ve ever seen,” said Kyrsten Van Natta, IPZ’s WNBA Agent. “Watching her play is like watching poetry in motion. She knows how to get herself open from anywhere on the court and her passes are something else…they’ve been on ESPN SportsCenter’s Top 10 multiple times. She is simply fun to watch. It’s been a pleasure getting to know Cierra as a person off the court, too, and I look forward to working with her as she embarks on her professional career.”

About IPZ: IPZ represents clients in sports, media, and entertainment, providing management, contract negotiations, consulting, public relations and marketing communications support. The company, an alliance with Zito Partners, is built on the integrity of its professionals, maintains a family focus, and provides whole life solutions for its clients. For more information, visit www.ipzusa.com.

Chris Silva Signs with IPZ

COLUMBIA, S.C. + WARREN, N.J., April 4, 2019 – Chris Silva, two-time First Team All-SEC and All-Defensive Team selection at the University of South Carolina, has signed with IPZ, Silva and the company announced today.

The six-foot-nine forward hails from Libreville, Gabon and his journey to America has been well-chronicled. He played high school basketball in the United States for Roselle Catholic in New Jersey and won the 2013 Tournament of Champions with the Lions.

The South Carolina Gamecocks made a historic NCAA Tournament run to the Final Four in 2017, due, in large part, to Chris Silva. As a sophomore, Silva had a breakout season: he started all 37 games and averaged 10.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, and a team-high 1.4 blocks in 21.0 minutes per game. In the matchup against top-seeded Gonzaga, in South Carolina’s first ever Final Four appearance, Silva scored 13 points and secured 13 rebounds.

Silva continued to improve as an upperclassman and was crowned SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year for the 2017-18 campaign. Additionally, he was selected to the First Team All-SEC and All-Defensive Team in back-to-back seasons.

He also led the Gamecocks in multiple categories in his junior and senior years with, in his junior year, 14.3 points per game, 8.0 rebounds per game, 1.4 blocks per game, and he shot 46.7% from the field. In his senior year, Silva’s team leading figures included averaging 15.2 points/game, 7.6 rebounds/game, 1.9 blocks/game, with a field goal percentage of 50.8%, including 50% from three-point range.

Silva was recently named to the NABC All-District Second Team for his final season as a Gamecock.

“It was clear to all those who watched South Carolina’s games this season that Chris was the emotional and physical leader of the team, and one of the best players in the SEC,” said Robert Zito, Managing Partner of IPZ. “His relationship with his coach and teammates as a student, leader, and teammate was evident.”

Silva is the only player in the history of South Carolina’s program to record at least 700 rebounds and 500 free throws in his career. He earned multiple academic honors as a student-athlete and will graduate this year with a degree in IT.

“I am so appreciative of the opportunity the coaching staffs in high school and college – and all my teammates – gave me and I look forward to the road ahead with the team at IPZ,” said Silva.

“In 34 years of coaching, I don’t think I’ve had a player work as hard as Chris Silva to get better,” said Frank Martin, Head Basketball Coach at South Carolina. “He is an unbelievable young man of tremendous character who is a really really good basketball player.”

About IPZ: IPZ represents clients in sports, media, and entertainment, providing management, contract negotiations, consulting, public relations and marketing communications support. The company, an alliance with Zito Partners, is built on the integrity of its professionals, maintains a family focus, and provides whole life solutions for its clients. For more information, visit www.ipzusa.com.