Dionte Christmas inks deal with Celtics

Former Temple basketball standout Dionte Christmas has signed with the Boston Celtics after playing for the team in the 2012 NBA summer league. — AP FILE PHOTO

Dionte Christmas wanted to find an NBA team that would give him a good look. Christmas, an undrafted free agent, decided to play for the Boston Celtics summer league team. That ended up being a good move for the former Temple basketball star.

Christmas averaged 14.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists a game. He also shot 47.9 percent from the field and tallied 45 percent from three-point range. That was more than enough for him to sign a contract with the Boston Celtics. Christmas knows where he will be headed this fall when training camp opens.

“This is a great opportunity for me,” Christmas said. “I think my hard work over the past year and not giving up. I think this year I have a great opportunity to show everybody what I can do. I think the things I worked on and I did a great job of that.

“I have been scoring over the years. But I went to camp to really try to lock guys down defensively. I think I did that in the summer league. I think that’s where I was really successful. This was great playing under Tyronn Lue (Celtics assistant) and seeing Doc Rivers (Celtics head coach), Danny Ainge (Celtics GM) and playing with the draft picks like Jared Sullinger (Ohio State). It was nice.”

Christmas, a 6-foot-5, 205-pound shooting guard, had been playing in Europe over the past two seasons. He played professional basketball in Israel, Turkey and Greece. Last season, he played in Greece and averaged 18.6 points a game. Christmas feels the pro basketball experience in Europe has served him well in his preparations for the NBA.

“There are a lot of great players overseas,” he said. “This experience really helped a lot. I learned a lot playing over there. Of course, the pro game is a little different over there. It’s physical. But I think it helped me with my transition from the pro game to the NBA.”

When it comes to basketball, Christmas has a good foundation. His father, James Christmas, has given him a lot of support over the years. He came up through the Sonny Hill League program where he played for Guy Moore and the late John Hardnett.

He was a terrific player in the Public League too at Fels High School. In his senior year, he was the leading scorer in the city averaging 26.5 points a game. He was one of the top recruits in the city. He had a marvelous college career at Temple. He scored 2,043 points during his career. In 2009, he was named the Most Outstanding Player in the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament. He averaged 19.5 points a game his senior year and led the Owls to the NCAA tournament.

After the season was over, Christmas, 25, was expecting to be taken in the NBA draft. However, he wasn’t selected despite all his accomplishments. He tried out with the Philadelphia 76ers but was waived by the team. At that point, he decided to play pro basketball in Europe. Now, he has a chance to play with the Celtics.

“I’m really excited about this opportunity,” he said. “I’ve worked really hard to get to this point. I’m looking forward to going to training camp.”


Contact staff writer Donald Hunt at (215) 893-5719 or dhunt@phillytrib.com.

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