Anthony, Tony, the “Red Rifle.” Call him what you will, but don’t question his game. Standing at 6 feet, 7 inches tall, with firey red hair, Anthony Silvestri ’09 does not look like your typical Division I athlete, and this SHC alum’s road to success is anything but typical.

What was it like playing basketball at SHC?

I didn’t played much basketball before my freshman year, but I got good experience learning the game from my coaches at SHC. My sophomore year, I was lucky enough to move up to varsity for the playoffs, which was an eye opening experience. I battled every practice and I knew that if I could play with Kevin Greene ’09 (USC and 49ers) and Jerry Brown ’09 (Fresno State University and Santa Clara University basketball), I could play against anyone.

Who encouraged you to play at the Division I level?

I was a little burned out on basketball when I got to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and didn’t try out for the team my freshman year of college. I was in the rec center one day during my sophomore year playing hoops with some members of the Cal Poly team. I had a few good games in open gym, and the players told Head Coach Joe Callero about me. He invited me to try out and he must have seen something in me he liked. I was given a spot on the team and I have been on the Cal Poly Mustang basketball team for two seasons.

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Any familiar faces playing on opposing teams?

I played against Jerry Brown ’09 at Fresno State University and at Santa Clara University. I also played against Taylor Johns ’12 and Josh Fox ’12 at University of California, Riverside. It was fun playing against old friends on the west coast.

When was your big break?

Last year I got to travel, but I did not play much. One day we were on a road trip to Delaware and a teammate was late for the bus. I got to start against the University of Delaware Blue Hens and had 14 points. My confidence took off after that. I was our leading scorer in our rivalry game against University of California, Santa Barbara with 17 points, including five three-pointers.

We finished seventh in the Big West Conference but got on a roll late. We beat UCSB by 31 in the first round, beat University of California, Irvine in the semis and won the championship game over California State University, Northridge. Incredibly enough, we made the NCAA Tournament with a 14-19 record.

Describe your NCAA Tournament experience. We flew to Dayton for the play-in game and beat Texas Southern, who had an NBA prospect and was a very athletic team. We then had a “David vs. Goliath” matchup as we flew to St. Louis and played the undefeated Wichita State University Shockers—the worst record in the tournament against the best record. We lost, but the atmosphere was boisterous with a packed gym on national television. I had a blast.

The last few years I’ve been a walk-on, but now I have a full scholarship heading into next season. I can’t wait to see what I can do on the court and hopefully take my game to another level.

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