Raps to give Mendez a look

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:23 AM ET

The Raptors have invited a couple of Canadians to pre-draft workouts this week at the Air Canada Centre. And not just to fetch stray basketballs.

The Raptors are apparently high on Niagara University forward Juan Mendez, who finished his career with the Purple Eagles this season as the highest-scoring Canadian in NCAA history.

Mendez averaged 23.5 points, 10.6 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 2.1 blocks per game at Niagara, shooting 47% from the field, and was an honourable mention on the Associated Press all-American team.

The Raptors have, in the past, invited Canadian kids to pre-draft workouts, usually out of courtesy to the player and the national program. But the talented Mendez is not a courtesy workout, though it still is doubtful he will be drafted June 28.

"We think he's a good player and he deserves legitimate consideration," Raptors general manager Rob Babcock said. "We're looking for the best players possible."

The Raptors will work Mendez out on Friday, along with three other forwards: Ryan Gomes of Providence, Wayne Simien of Kansas and Lawrence Roberts of Mississippi State.

On Thursday, the Raptors will put Nate Doornekamp of Odessa, Ont., through his paces at the ACC.

The 7-foot, 260-pound Doornekamp averaged 5.2 points and 4.8 rebounds in 30 games as a senior for Boston College this season and took home a share of the team's defensive MVP award. Doornekamp will almost certainly not be drafted by an NBA team, but that doesn't mean the Raptors will ignore him.

"Big guys develop later than little guys and we want to keep an eye on Doornekamp," Babcock said. "We want to get a good base read on him."

Three other 7-footers also will workout Thursday, including Eddy Fobbs of Sam Houston State, Luke Schenscher of Georgia Tech and Robert Rothbart of Paris Racing.

Ivan Chiriaev, a 7-foot-1 centre who played high school ball in Oakville, has filed as an early candidate for the NBA draft and the Raptors plan to attend a workout by Chiriaev, reportedly June 7 in Treviso, Italy.


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