Prior to Chris Silva's official visit to South Carolina last weekend, the local school in his recruitment, Seton Hall, was thought to be the favorite to receive a commitment from the Roselle Catholic (N.J.) and Sports U (AAU) big man.
Instead, fiery head coach Frank Martin has found himself South Carolina's first Class of 2015 recruit in the 6-foot-8 Silva, who pledged his future to the Gamecocks in a 3:15 press conference at Roselle Catholic today. Chris chose the SEC school over Seton Hall and the Atlantic 10's Rhode Island, both of who made his final list of three schools. The Union County product is rated 75th (247Sports), 96th (ESPN), 132nd (Rivals), and 3-stars (Scout.com) overall in the Class of 2015.
"That's a great school, great coaches," said Silva of South Carolina. "I like everything about it, the education, the support they give to players after their career - everything."
A game-changer in Silva's recruitment was his official visit last weekend."I went there and it was completely different than what I was thinking," he said. "When I got there, I see the difference and I kind of like it. That's something coming from the heart."
It also sounds like Chris bonded with his future teammates while on the visit, which included the Gamecocks' football game against Georgia. "[I'm] Excited to go there. I look forward to playing with all the players I saw there during the visit. They're great, they're funny, they're all what good teammate is. I can see they are what good teammates is. I'm excited to be there around them and with them and doing everything there."
Immediate playing time may be hard to come by with the Gamecocks projected to have three seasoned frontcourt players in Laimonas Chatkevicius (senior), Mindaugus Kacinas (senior), and Demetrius Henry (junior) on their roster when Chris Silva sets foot on campus as a freshman next summer. Undersized Michael Carrera, who will be a senior in 2015-16, also sees time at the 'four'.
However, court time as a sophomore and beyond looks fruitful, especially if three-star 2014 power forward James Thompson, who is facing aggravated battery and domestic abuse charges in an October 23rd court case, does not have a future in Columbia. If Thompson is found not guilty and attends prep school, there looks to be an outside shot that he could join Silva at South Carolina next summer.
As of now, Chris Silva brings natural shot-blocking and rebuilding ability to the table. The native of Gabon is entering just his third year of organized basketball, which explains his developing back-to-the-basket game, a facet of the game that most young interior guys lack. Roselle Catholic head coach Dave Boff said that Silva literally came to the states/Roselle Catholic with the clothes on his back and one change of clothes.
Silva's raw offensive skill-set naturally brings high-potential along with it. To his credit, Silva does not have heavy feet like a large number of post forwards (perhaps due to soccer background) -- he is quite agile in the paint and shows uncanny instincts when defending. Dave Boff spoke very highly of his big man's potential following Silva's press conference today.
"I think his game transitions very well [to the next level]. His athleticism alone makes him an elite athlete at that level and puts him in a situation here he can compete right away," said Boff. "Then with his continuing skill development that he has shown over the last few years, still with - I think - another level or two to go, I think he has an opportunity to become a tremendous college player when it's all said and done."
On why Silva chose South Carolina: "What he really wanted was to play against the best people in the country, not only in games, but also day-in day-out in practice. I think he felt as though South Carolina gave him the best opportunity to do that, with the SEC schedule and the daily competition in practice, he felt like that would be a good fit. The other schools certainly had things similar to that, but he felt that South Carolina gave him the best opportunity to compete day-in and day-out."
More coming shortly on what this development means for Seton Hall's recruiting going forward.