Chris Silva: Junior Primer

As you've read for more than a year at, there are several very offensively skilled and balanced big men atop the Class of 2015.

Chris Silva very well may not ever become one of those guys. He's a defensive center, not a playboy operating in space with slick ballhandling and scoring ability. And that's just fine when assessing his high-major chances, given that only a handful of programs will be fortunate enough to secure one of the elite junior big men.

Silva hails from a place one doesn't naturally associate with basketball: Gabon. A small African country with a population of only 1.5 million and a heavy French influence, Silva is a rarity and one of his nation's few notable basketball representatives in the United States.

He'll have an opportunity to do his homeland proud. He's a fine athlete who runs very well, is quick off the floor, rebounds aggressively and doesn't shy away from contact. He impressed me at The Showdown last summer, where he competed in the tough, unsung fashion that historically was associated with the old Big East.

Silva also is a gifted, hard-working shotblocker who, as he gains strength, could excel on that end of the floor. Any reliable offense may be years away, but his impact on defense could win him significant early playing time for the school of his choice.

And some hope does exist for him as a scorer. He already knocks down the occasional open jump shot, so at least he does possess reasonably effective touch. Still, at 6-9 and blessed with top-shelf athleticism, his role at the next level almost definitely will rotate around defense first, second and third.

Not surprisingly, the Roselle Catholic (N.J.) product has drawn heavy attention from Northeastern programs. Seton Hall, Villanova, Rutgers, St. John's and Syracuse all represent the old Big East, and Cincinnati and Creighton have been in touch as well.

No one will be surprised if Silva's recruitment extends into the fall, due to the fact that he's less familiar with American college hoops culture than most of his peers and may require more time to deliberate. But his catch-up is proceeding rapidly, and the offers should begin to flow profusely over the next six months.

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