Bullish move by Raps

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:27 AM ET

The Raptors are bringing in a guard to training camp who was a star last year with the Bulls.

The Yunnan Honghe Running Bulls.

One of the more intriguing additions to this year's camp, which begins Oct. 4 at Brock University in St. Catharines, is combo guard Corey Williams, who, if he makes the club, would be an NBA rookie at 28.

But general manager Rob Babcock said yesterday that Williams, who played in China last season, may be one of those rare players who finds his way into the NBA the hard way.

According to Babcock, Raptors assistant coach Jim Todd saw Williams play this summer in the prestigious Entertainers Basketball Classic at New York City's storied Rucker Park and was impressed enough to convince Babcock to invite him to camp.

"Jim is really high on him, which is important to us, and we have an open spot (at guard)," Babcock said. "I love to see guys that aren't in the spotlight, that haven't been to a big-time college program, who haven't had the chance to get a lot of exposure (get a another chance)."

Williams, who lists the U.S. and Jamaica as his nationalities, has an interesting background, having started as a high school star in NYC, before moving on to Penn Valley Community College, where he helped that school win a national title in 1998, averaging 25 points, six boards, and four assists a game.

The next season, he played for Alabama State, averaging 15 points, five rebounds and three steals. Williams lasted only one year at Alabama and spent the next six years bouncing around from league to league, country to country, playing in Brazil, Italy, Sweden and China, as well as the USBL and IBA.

With only two point guards locked in to make the Raptors this season -- Rafer Alston and Jose Calderon (Alvin Williams is still struggling to return from knee surgery) -- Corey Williams has a legitimate shot.

"Sure he does," Babcock said. "You don't just bring anybody (into camp). That would be an embarrassment, not only for the player, but to the organization. We checked this guy out."

Babcock said players do make NBA rosters as training camp invitees, pointing out that his former team, the Minnesota Timberwolves, signed Keith McLeod as a non-roster invitee. McLeod is now an NBA fixture.

Williams is said to be a player who is capable of getting to the basket almost at will and is an outstanding ballhandler who posses an explosive first step. He goes by the nickname Homicide, "because I destroy everything in front of me", he said recently.

If he doesn't make the Raptors, Williams is scheduled to head back to China and play for the Henan RenHe Dragons.


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