The next Temple guard to have his name called on draft night will be Dionte Christmas. The four-year player certainly has had his share of illustrious collegiate highlights.
He led the Atlantic 10 in scoring for three straight seasons averaging nearly 20 points. He led Temple to back-to-back Atlantic 10 tournament titles the past two years. Unfortunately, those titles remained the only accolade as the Owls were eliminated in the first round of the NCAA tournament each time.
Christmas, a John Chaney recruit, transitioned the Temple program into the Fran Dunphy era. He saw little time his freshman season, then needed to adjust from Chaney's matchup zone to Dunphy's man-to-man defense.
Dunphy played him right away and Christmas thrived. He became the unquestionable go-to-guy who possessed deep shooting ability from beyond the arc. Often referred to as having an unorthodox release, Christmas was difficult to stop when his shot was on.
Fans often overlooked his defense. He was the best off-the-ball defender the Owls had; he could extend and defend passing lanes far from the basket and was a menace as a backside defender reading reversals and skip passes. He averaged 1.5 steals a game to lead the Owls in 2009 as well as nearly six rebounds, most of which came on the defensive end.
In order for Christmas to be successful at the NBA level, he will need to improve and become more than just a shooter. He had exactly as many assists as turnovers his senior year. His ball-handling leaves much to be desired, especially when pressured.
Perhaps his biggest fault was his reluctance to attack the basket when his jump shot wasn't falling. Christmas could be extremely stubborn in trying to shoot himself out of a slump rather than penetrating and creating something for himself or a teammate.
Regardless, Christmas' work ethic has shown that he can improve year after year. More than likely, he will be drafted by a team that is in desperate need of a legitimate outside threat. He will probably go to Detroit in the second round with the No. 35 pick or even fall to San Antonio at thirty-seven.
The question will not be if Christmas gets drafted, but how long and successful his NBA career will be. Many Temple guards fell short of expectations after stellar careers in North Philadelphia. Christmas can certainly be another Macon or Greer. If he remains consistent with his shooting ability, he may have a career like Brunson and move from team to team depending on who needs a shooter.
But Christmas has the build and talent to contend with the careers of Jones and McKie. He'll most likely never reach their level, but a ten-plus year career in the NBA should not be out of the question.