Xavier Silas didn't waste a second of his summer.
Instead of enjoying his free time off from school and the basketball team, the Huskies' guard/forward kept himself busy by traveling and working on his game with many basketball minds.
Silas first traveled overseas to play in China with the Reach USA basketball team, which was coached by former NIU associate head men's basketball coach Dennis Gates.
The Austin, Texas native teamed up with other collegiate players, including Louisville's Peyton Siva and Kentucky's Jon Hood and Josh Harrellson.
Once returning state-side, Silas worked with Denver Nuggets' point guard Chauncey Billups, who was coached by NIU head coach Ricardo Patton while at Colorado, in Denver.
The five-time NBA all-star and Silas have had a friendly relationship for many years, and often exchanged phone calls and text messages since their first encounter.
"He's one of the people that I go to when I need some advice," Silas said. "I can go to him for pretty much anything. This summer we got pretty close and we had talked before, but this summer we took it to another level."
Not only did Silas get to work with an NBA player, but also a former coach in Bob Hill and his son Casey.
Similar to his relationship with Billups, Silas has been well acquainted with the Hill family for a considerable amount of time.
The former Seattle Super Sonics coach and his son helped Silas refine his skills, including attacking defenses and how to utilize screens. "It's like going to school when I go to a workout session with [Bob Hill]," Silas said. "He's always teaching and showing me different stuff."
His competitiveness and willingness to learn was a treat for them to coach.
"The one thing that I noticed about him was when you watch him play, especially in competitive situations, is how competitive he is," Casey said. "He wants to win worse than anyone on the court and it's a lot of fun for a coach to watch because that's what you want to see in players; you want to see that extra fire."
Silas also worked with his father and brother, James Silas and Roderick Anderson, in his home state of Texas where they focused on multiple dribble moves, footwork and taking the basketball to the hoop more often.
Anderson said that his brother has played the equivalence "eight weeks of solid basketball the last two years" due to transferring from the University of Colorado and being set back early on last season with a fractured hand. He feels that those difficulties will pay off in the long run for his brother.
"It helps build better character of a basketball player," Anderson said.
Silas eventually ventured back to Chicago, and participated in the Adidas Nations Camp.
He rubbed shoulders with some of the top talent in the country including Duke's Nolan Smith, Kansas' Markieff Morris and UCLA's Malcolm Lee.
Silas said that he was the only player from a mid-major to take part in the event and was humble of the invite.
"It's an honor to be considered one of the top players in the country," Silas said.