In 2006 Fran Dunphy was embarking on his first season at the helm of the Temple men’s basketball team.
Dustin Salisbery was a senior that year who averaged 16 points a game as a starter for the Owls.
Today, Salisbery, a Lancaster native, is a 33-year-old unrestricted free agent who is on the G League Delaware 87ers roster and still hoping to make the leap into the NBA.
“It’s been a long journey,” Salisbery said Monday during the Sevens’ media day. “I left [Temple] going on 10, 11 years now. Lot of ups and downs in that time.”
After going undrafted in 2007 Salisbery played for the 76ers summer league team, then played professionally in France. He returned the following season to play for the Clippers summer league team, but again found him self overseas playing in Germany.
Salisbury took a short hiatus from basketball before finding himself with the 87ers in 2012, the team’s first season in Delaware. He never started a game for the Sevens and describes it as a season that didn’t go quite as well as he had wanted.
He returned to playing internationally with stops in the British Basketball League, in Iceland, and again in France.
After taking part in the 87ers’ open tryouts this summer, Salisbery landed a spot back in Delaware, just a hour’s drive from his hometown.
His decision to return home and play in the G League was two-fold. First, he wanted to be closer to his family. His fiancée and his two sons, age 12 and 7, aren’t able to be with him when he plays internationally so being close is important to him. Second, the ultimate goal for Salisbery is to make it into the NBA and he feels the time is right and the Sevens give him the best chance.
“He’s a guy that can score the basketball, he’s a really good shooter, and he has experience,” head coach Eugene Burroughs said of Salisbery. “When you have young team of guys that haven’t played professional basketball, having a guy that’s been around the block a little bit can be very helpful.”
Salisbery keeps in regular contact with Dunphy, and former Temple teammates Dion Dacons, Chris Clark, and Mardy Collins. Being close to home has put him in back in contact with the people from his past, but he says the thing he’s most looking forward to is his sons being able to watch him play again.
It’s no secret that many players who are in the G League won’t cross over into the NBA and that their careers will expire in the minor league. Salisbery refuses to pay attention to those kinds of negative thoughts and believes he can still break into the best league in the world.
“I’m an older guy now that can bring a lot of leadership. So I don’t really think about not being called up,” he said. “If you think that way then it’s not going to happen. You’ve got to think positive the whole way.”