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Chiriaev not exactly all star
Mike Ulmer says at least the kid's attitude is better
By MIKE ULMER, TORONTO SUN

Ivan Chiriaev has added a new weapon to his arsenal: Humility. You remember Ivan Chiriaev. He's the 19-year-old, 7-foot-1 Oakville kid who declared himself eligible for the NBA draft with the memorable "the NBA wants Ivan Chiriaev. The NBA needs Ivan Chiriaev."

Seemed a bit much coming from a kid who was averaging somewhere around 16 points per game in high school. His coach later conceded there were no real team stats kept for St. Thomas Aquinas.

Evidently, however, they found some. In yesterday's program, Chiriaev, a native of St. Petersburg, Russia, was credited with 26.8 points per game, 17.3 rebounds and 9.2 assists. Under the heading Next Year there were just three letters: NBA.

Said so, right there in the program.

NAGGING QUESTION

There is just the nagging question of whether Chiriaev will, in fact, be drafted on June 24 in New York.

Yesterday, in front of a good 2,000 or so people and at least a dozen NBA types, Chiriaev showed himself to be not out of place in the All-Canada Basketball Game at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga.

Assuming the NBA decides to jettison its stars and replace them with Canadian high school players, Chiriaev's future is very bright, indeed.

The exhibition game drew kids from all over the country and you should know that Chiriaev was named MVP on the basis of a game-high 17 points.

You should also know that the announcement was booed vociferously.

"I have my fans," Chiriaev said. "I have my haters."

If any attention is good attention, Ivan Chiriaev is a genius. The notion of a kid who several coaches didn't consider a high school all-star declaring himself the new star in the NBA firmament took outlandish self-promotion to new heights or, if you like, lows.

Visa problems prevented him from participating at the premier high school prospects game at the NCAA Final Four. Yesterday was as good a chance as anyone was going to get at finding out whether Chiriaev could match his own hype.

And the answer is ... who knows?

At least the height figures aren't padded. When he jumps, by George, he's about 7-foot-3. He occasionally showed an aptitude in finding the open man. Other times, he looked lost.

If anything, yesterday's game underscored the lunacy of Chiriaev's insistence that he can play guard. He can dribble a bit but his distance away from the basket limited him to four rebounds, all defensive. When you're 7-foot-1, you're advised to get a little closer to the hoop. He is a poor defensive player.

Maybe the greatest revelation was Chiriaev's decision to cut the crap.

"I think I did okay," he said, when asked to assess his own performance.

"I think I can make myself better, with the help of my coaches. I still have a long way to go."

Which, of course, he does.

"He's a good kid," said teammate Stuart Turnbull, a 19-year-old guard from Kingston. "I got to spend some time with him this week and he was really nice, he joked around. I think he has been portrayed unfairly."

For his part, Chiriaev said he regrets blowing his own horn quite so loudly.

"For me right now it's just work and really hard work. I can say whatever. I have a long way to go."









Do you like the new-look Raptors heading into the 2013-14 NBA season?
  Yes, new GM made great moves
  No, they will still be a terrible team
  Unsure what to make of it


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