Xavier Talton didn't jump immediately into a pro basketball career following his graduation from the University of Colorado in 2016. Yet those pro dreams remained alive and well when he jumped into a pick-up game in May 2017 at a gym in Superior.
Then something popped in Talton's left ankle. All of the sudden there was a genuine fear that pro career was over before it could begin.
That pop was Talton's Achilles tendon rupturing. While the setback delayed his debut with the Colorado basketball alumni on Team Colorado by one year, it failed to derail Talton's pro aspirations. The former Buffaloes guard and Colorado native improved enough by January to sign for the remainder of the 2017-18 season with a pro team in Macedonia, and his presence will give Team Colorado a needed infusion of younger legs when it begins play in the $2 million, winner-take-all The Basketball Tournament in two weeks.
"I was stressed, for sure," Talton said. "I moved to Phoenix and got a job out there for a while pretty much just to rehab in the warm weather. I was there for about seven months and I got back healthy. I wasn't even signed with an agent. I was just kind of looking myself, sending my film from college out and stuff like that. It kind of just came about out of nowhere almost."
In January, Talton signed with KK Pelister Sport Bitola in Macedonia, playing in 15 games with 13 starts down the stretch. Talton averaged 6.7 points and 1.9 assists while shooting .375 from 3-point range and .394 overall.
The native of Sterling endured an up-and-down career with the Buffs highlighted by three appearances in the NCAA Tournament. His best scoring year was his sophomore campaign of 2013-14, when Spencer Dinwiddie's midseason injury thrust Talton into a bigger role. He averaged 4.9 points while shooting .373 on 3-pointers and .406 overall, marks the held up as career-bests. As a senior in 2015-16, Talton posted a career-best assist-to-turnover rate of 1.9 while shooting an impressive .911 at the free throw line (41-for-45).
Talton was planning to compete with Team Colorado last summer until his Achilles injury.
"I didn't get to do as much (in Macedonia) as I wanted to, but I was efficient with what I did," Talton said. "Our team we overachieved a little bit so that was nice. There wasn't too much of a language barrier because most of them spoke English, but culturally it was a lot different. It really made me appreciate what we have here in America."
With Team Colorado, the 23-year old Talton will provide a younger option at the point guard spot on a roster that includes ball-handlers like Marcus Hall, a tireless player who nonetheless turns 33 in August, and Dominique Coleman, who turns 34 in July.
"Younger blood is something we need," said former Buff and Team Colorado coach Dwight Thorne. "We tried to get a few other younger guys, but it's a testament to the program that the younger guys have professional contracts and are playing. And for them this isn't the best thing to do right now. The young guys will come around and that's definitely something we want to do, but it's good to have XT here now. He's coming off an injury so I'm hoping for the best for him."