MACwood Squares is our summer reading series on the best athletes in Mid-American Conference sports history. This week features Northern Illinois. Looking for your MAC school? Consult our schedule for other teams and please submit your nominees as well.
While a two-year transfer player, Xavier Silas may have been a welcome sight in terms of his individual scoring, but the team had never been worse. Still, when determining the best athlete, we do not necessarily take into consideration how good the team was. He has NBA Draft hopes, albeit slim, but I have a feeling you will see this guy play with somebody at least for a couple years.
Only one player in NIU history has played 100 career ABA/NBA games, and that person would transfer away from NIU. So Silas has a chance to break some new ground.
But is he their best basketball player of all time? Let's look at other contenders;
Jim Bradley (1971-73) — Much like Silas, he was there for only two years but made a huge impression with 23.1 points per game and 16.8 rebounds. He spent a few years with the ABA's Kentucky Colonels and was drafted in the third round by the Lakers but never made it to the NBA. His life was tragically cut short by homicide in 1982, but he was posthumously inducted into the Indiana Basketball HOF last year.
Kenny Battle (1984-86) — Hmm. Shall we consider a man who transferred away from NIU? He was dynamite for the two years he did play in DeKalb, getting honorable mention All-American nods in each year and collecting 63.5 steals per year. He would, of course, go onto leading Illinois to the Final Four and enjoy a short career in the NBA, including a participation in the Slam Dunk Competition.
T.J. Lux (1995-2000) — Well, he's the all-time leading scorer with 1,996 points and he also pulled down 1,110 rebounds in his four-plus-year career. Bonus suck-up points go to him being the 1999-2000 Academic All-American of the Year. He didn't have a pro career but he was recently named the coach of his high school boys team, Merrillville (IN) High. So that's incredibly cool.
Xavier Silas (2009-11) — The case for Silas: The 22.3 points per game is the highest average since Paul Dawkins in 1978. This was also eighth in the country. He also averaged 12 points per game as a freshman at Colorado and the ceiling for this player seems rather high.
Allen Rayhorn, Tim Norton, Paul Dawkins, Billy Harris, and others. Who was the best?
Who are your nominees for Northern Illinois's MACwood Squares? Comment below, tweet us at @HustleBelt or submit a FanPost making your case. The final nine will be revealed Friday.