Villanueva gets thumbs up

Toronto Raptors' first-round draft pick Charlie Villanueva, above at a press conference at the Air...

Toronto Raptors' first-round draft pick Charlie Villanueva, above at a press conference at the Air Canada Centre has a fan in Raptors forward Chris Bosh. (Toronto Sun photo/Michael Peake)

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:40 AM ET

COSTAMESA, CALIF. -- A surprise guest showed up at Raptors summer camp yesterday to start working with frontcourt-mate Charlie Villanueva.

Raptors star forward Chris Bosh, who knows a thing or two about professionalism, joined the draft picks and free agents for practice yesterday and came away with a good first impression of Villanueva. While some wondered why the Raptors snapped up a power forward with their first pick in the draft when Bosh plays the same position, the Texan thinks he and Villanueva can develop fine chemistry.

"I think we can work well together," Bosh said. "We can play off each other, switch a lot of things and guard other big guys. There is not going to be any competition between us. We're just going to make each other better."

Bosh watched the draft and heard the criticism of the Raptors' top pick. Those words went in one ear and out the other.

"I don't understand it," Bosh said. "Eventually, down the road, some people that criticized will be applauding."

While Bosh did not take part in any scrimmages, he kept a close eye on Villanueva and fellow first-round pick Joey Graham, a small forward. He thinks both young men will help make the Raptors a better team in a hurry.

"Charlie and Joey, they've both got game," Bosh said. "I think they're going to be able to help us out immediately. They are both good players."

Raptors coach Sam Mitchell also had good things to say about Villanueva and Graham after their first practice under his watch. Mitchell sent Villanueva to the weight room for some extra work. The coach feels the Connecticut product needs to bulk up a bit to elevate his game.

"He's very skilled. This kid can flat-out play," Mitchell said. "He has got to get stronger, but he can play and he has a passion for the game. We've got to build his body up and get it ready for the NBA, which is going to take some time. But he's in the weight room now and he's willing to work."

On the other hand, Mitchell feels Graham already has the required physique.

NBA BODY

"I think Joey has an NBA body now, but Joey played four years of major college basketball," Mitchell said.

The Raptors are expected to announce the signings of Graham and Villanueva today or tomorrow.

Having Bosh around for two days of practice -- he won't play in the Los Angeles summer league -- delights Mitchell.

"I think it's unbelievable," Mitchell said. "It shows his dedication and how good he wants to be. He doesn't have to be here. It gives these guys a chance to see a guy with his talent. It makes them realize if Chris Bosh comes and works and plays, what do they have to do?"


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