Toronto debut for Magic rookie Andrew Nicholson

Orlando Magic forward Andrew Nicholson goes to the basket against Toronto Raptors forward Andrea...

Orlando Magic forward Andrew Nicholson goes to the basket against Toronto Raptors forward Andrea Bargnani (L) during the first half of their NBA basketball game in Toronto November 18, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Cassese

Ryan Wolstat, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:48 PM ET

Andrew Nicholson is one of the quietest, most understated NBA players you will find, so it was no surprise he underplayed the gravity of his home debut.

The Orlando Magic rookie forward and Mississauga native, faced the Raptors for the first time on Sunday afternoon but said it was not a contest he had circled on his calendar in advance.

“Not really, I always focus on the next game, I don’t look at the games in the future, Nicholson said after practice on Saturday.

Nicholson said he used to attend Raptors games quite frequently during the Vince Carter era, but said it wouldn’t be strange to actually play on the same court for the first time.

“I don’t think it will be weird. It will be fun. It’s also just another game that we have to be ready and prepared for,” he said.

Still, “it’s an honour to be able to come back and play in the same place.”

Nicholson, who starred at St. Bonaventure and became the school’s first first round NBA pick since Bob Lanier way back, has already earned minutes under rookie head coach Jacque Vaughn.

He has played well in his 11.6 minutes per game, averaging 5.9 points, 2.3 rebounds and 0.5 blocks on 50% shooting.

“He’s been great. He’s been soaking up a lot of knowledge. He comes to practice every day willing to learn and he’s done a great job of learning our concepts and applying them in games,” Vaughn said.

Vaughn said he hoped Nicholson wouldn’t feel any extra pressure playing at home (it didn’t seem like he had to worry about that) and said he wouldn’t be giving him extra time because of the occasion.

“There’s a lot of people who have supported you and been there for you for a great amount of years. I think the best thing for a person to do is to approach it like any other game. That’s the mindset. That’s the way to have success. You worry about tickets, or trying to play for friends and family, things don’t usually tend to go well when you do that,” Vaughn said.

A busload of Bonnies made the trip from upstate New York to support Nicholson, but he said he didn’t request “rows upon rows” of tickets like some players do when at home.

Nicholson’s high school coach at Father Goetz, Ray Kulig, is not surprised how well his former charge has done since leaving for the U.S.

“We all knew, if you could ever get this incredibly skilled, highly intelligent player into the weight room, you would have an awesome talent,” Kulig told the Sun earlier this year.

“We knew, with the extra discipline and fitness regimen he would receive at the next level, his natural talents would flourish.”

On Sunday, the GTA got a chance to see just how far the big man had come.


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