For Dionte Christmas, Santa Didn't Show at the NBA Draft

B MacCorrespondent IJune 26, 2009

MIAMI - MARCH 20:  Guard Dionte Christmas #22 (C)  of the Temple Owl  drives to the basket past  forward Jeff Pendergraph #3  (L) and forward Rihards Kuksiks #30 (R) of the Arizona State Sun Devils during the first round of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the American Airlines Arena on March 20, 2009 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

I guess to be drafted by a professional team in any sport (football, baseball, basketball, ice hockey, etc.) is like Christmas morning. So for those 60 players drafted in last night's NBA Draft, it must've been like Christmas morning. Instead of opening up presents, they were being drafted by a professional basketball team.

You see where I am going with all these Christmas references?

Christmas never came for many players, but one sticks out in particular: Temple's senior shooting guard, Dionte Christmas. Even the talking heads at ESPN (Jay Bilas) said that Christmas was one of the best available players left at the end of the draft.

"I wanted to hear my name called," Christmas said. "My family wanted to hear my name called. If that would have happened, it would have been a blessing. I'm upset."

Christmas played on one of the most successful Temple basketball teams the school has ever seen. In each of his last three seasons, he has scored at least 20-plus points a game. He even helped lead the Owls to two Atlantic 10 titles in the last two years.

There were two other Big 5 players drafted: Villanova's Dante Cunningham and Saint Joseph's Ahmad Nivens at No. 33 and No. 56, respectively.

I might not be able to judge what kind of talent Christmas has, due to the fact that I could not attend many basketball games last semester. But what I missed live and in person, I caught on television—especially during the A-10 Tourney.

From what I did see and watch on television, I can say that I believe Christmas has the stuff to make a NBA roster and start. Christmas can both drive to the bucket and shoot from long distance, which makes him a valuable asset to any team.

Here's a quote from the Philadelphia Daily News:

"It's disappointing, my dad is real upset. But I've been an underdog my whole life. People weren't expecting me to do what I've done thus far. I've put it in God's hands right now. Some team is going to want me. And I'm going to give them everything I've got. Nothing less."

So what are his options?

Dionte has a ton of options that will present themselves to him. OK, maybe not a ton, but at least the three listed below.


Option No. 1

He could go Europe. A lot of American college basketball players bypass the NBA for the European professional basketball leagues, to either improve their skills or just to make some money.

Christmas could play over in Europe for a year and then come back to the States and see what his "stock value" is.

Option No. 2

He could sign a rookie free agent contract with some team. This option is most likely. He could always sign a rookie free agent contract with the local NBA team, the Philadelphia 76ers.

He wouldn't be the only undrafted Temple athlete to be signed by a professional sports team. Temple senior quarterback and classmate Adam DiMichele went undrafted. But DiMichele signed a rookie free agent contract with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Christmas would be joining some notable classmates:

QB Adam DiMichele (undrafted, signed by the Philadelphia Eagles)

OF Sean Barksdale (drafted by the Houston Astros in the 38th round)

C Alex Derenthal (undrafted, signed by the New York Giants)


Option No. 3

Yes, the dreaded third option. Christmas has a degree to fall back on, but I don't think that will happen.

"I'm going to lay low for a little bit. Then I'm going to get back to work to show everybody that I belong. I've definitely got a chip on my shoulder. That's [my motivation]."


Whatever Christmas does, it should be interesting. Overall, I hope Dionte latches on somewhere. He's a good ballplayer, and he didn't deserve to be undrafted.