Coming out of J.P McCoskey High School in Lancaster in 2003, Dustin Salisbery had only two Division I offers.
It came down to Rider University, or joining legendary Hall of Fame coach John Chaney at Temple University.
“At the time I thought it was the best option, and Temple wasn’t a bad offer to have,” said Salisbery, who will join several Philly-area standouts in Sunday’s The-BALL Showcase game at Hagan Arena.
Salisbery arrived on North Broad Street in 2003 and immediately received steady minutes (19 MPG) and that continued to be the case during his sophomore and junior seasons, as Salisbery became one of the Owls’ major contributors.
Playing beside star players like Mardy Collins, David Hawkins and Dionte Christmas along the way, all of whom have played professionally either overseas or in the NBA, made it difficult for Salisbery to have a breakout season and put up the numbers he knew he was capable of.
But, after Salisbery’s junior year in 2006, Chaney elected to step away from the sideline and retired after 34 seasons of coaching college basketball that accumulated a total of 741 W’s in the left side of the record column.
In came Fran Dunphy, and with that coaching change, Salisbery took off.
Salisbery’s stat line skyrocketed tremendously and the 6-foot-5 guard had an exceptional senior season, becoming Temple’s go-to offensive threat.
Salisbery averaged 16.4 points per game (up from 9.7 ppg during his junior year) and shot 42.5 percent from the field (up from 37.8), while also tallying just fewer than 2 steals and 5 rebounds per game during his senior season.
“Dunphy’s style of play definitely benefited me more,” Salisbery said. “With Chaney, the offense was slowed down and we played a slower paced game. The type of player that I am is more of the style that Dunphy had for us”.
Although he didn’t have the first three years he may have envisioned in the Cherry and White, Salisbery, along with hard work and dedication became one of the Atlantic 10’s best players in 2006-07.
Now it was time for Salisbery to prove that he could compete at the professional level.
Salisbery went undrafted but later signed a deal to play with the Philadelphia 76ers summer league team, and spent time with the Los Angeles Clippers summer league squad as well.
With a more exclusive opportunity on the table Salisbery elected to play overseas, and his first three years went just as planned.
“Ah, man, my first three years were great, playing in France and Germany and in between playing with the Sixers summer league team,” he said.
Salisbery was getting some burn on the hardwood, making money playing the sport he dearly loved, but then his career began to take some unfortunate turns.
The FIBA organizations in Greece and Romania that Salisbery signed with fizzled, and the franchises began to fall because of ownership and money difficulties.
“The situations in Greece and Romania were absolutely terrible,” he said. “It was absolutely awful. The organization, money wise, it was just terrible.”
Salisbery later played in the Dominican Republic, where he found some success and captured a league championship, but for whatever reason, Salisbery couldn’t find his way back with a successful organization in the professional basketball ranks, and that remains to be the case for the highly talented guard.
“These past going on two years, I really haven’t had a basketball job,” he said. “No reason being, if I had a reason, I would give you one.”
After competing in the United States, France, Germany, Greece, Romania, the Dominican Republic and Mexico, Salisbery now finds himself back in the Philadelphia area seeking any type of opportunity to lace the kicks up again.
That’s where Sunday’s BALL showcase game comes in.
“I got the call from Curtis Sumpter, and it was sort of a relief,” he said. “I’m working out; I’m in shape and everything like that. If the call would come, I’d be prepared in no time to say, ‘Hey, I can do this, I can do that.’”
“From a personal stand point it was great for me to get back on the court, just so people know I’m still a basketball player. I can definitely still play, (I have) no injuries, I’m healthy, still young and I’m ready to play”.
Salisbery hasn’t had a basketball job since November of 2010, but with work ethic full of ambition and dedication, he continues to work effortlessly to keep his dream of playing pro hoops alive.
“Knowing the level that I can play at continues to drive me, just knowing that sometimes things like this happen,” he said. “I know a lot of people in my situation have just folded up and gave it up, but I just know that whatever shot I’m given, I’m going to take advantage of it. I know what kind of player I am and what my capabilities are. Being in shape is the most important part and I’m definitely ready”
The-Ball Showcase could very well be the opportunity that re-opens the door for Salisbery’s professional basketball career, which he’s starving to retain.
“I know for Philadelphia it should be a pretty big event,” he said. “A lot of people involved know a lot of people that they can bring in so fans can get familiar with the league.
“I think with coaches like Phil Martelli, Jay Wright, Coach Dunphy, Jerome Allen, all those guys are connected with a lot of people, so I think it could be a pretty big thing. I know a lot of guys are working out and everybody is ready to go”.
This coming weekend couldn’t come soon enough for Salisbery, who is anxiously waiting to get back on the court and prove to anybody watching, that he can still play ball at a highly competitive level.
-the-BALL info: Sunday’s The-BALL showcase game is scheduled to tip off at 8 p.m. Click HERE for tickets. … College students who show a valid ID and wear team colors will be admitted for free. … The-BALL is soliciting a team name for the Philadelphia contingent, with the winner receiving courtside seats for 10 people to Sunday’s game. Tweet your suggestions to @TheBALLHoops.
Related story: The-BALL CEO Michael Wranovics talks to Philahoops about the league’s concept.
-Chase Senior covers Temple for Philahoops. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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