Bucknor makes impression

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:50 AM ET

Edmonton native Jermaine Bucknor, who worked out for the Raptors yesterday, has a bachelor of arts degree in rhetoric.

Which would make him a perfect employee for Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd.

Actually, Bucknor let his play do the talking during workouts of draft-eligible players at the Air Canada Centre. The Raptors braintrust was very impressed with the 6-foot-7 forward, who averaged 13.5 points and 4.3 rebounds as a senior with the University of Richmond Spiders last season.

The fact that Bucknor played for a relatively small college program means he is not likely to be near the top of the list of potential draft picks of most NBA teams.

Indeed, it's a good bet the Canadian national team standout will not hear his name announced when the NBA holds its annual draft on June 27 at Madison Square Garden.

But Jim Kelly, the Raptors director of player personnel, said Bucknor certainly opened some eyes.

"Very surprising," Kelly said, when asked how Bucknor's workout went. "He's very versatile. It looks like he could defend some fours, twos and threes as well. He shot the ball well and had a little bit of grit to him.

"I thought he had a very good showing."

Bucknor, who likely will travel with head coach Leo Rautins and the men's national team for a tour in Europe this summer, acknowledged he is a long shot to be drafted, but vowed to work his way to the NBA -- and playing for the only Canadian team in the league would be a bonus.

"It's a dream I always had, and that's still the No. 1 goal," Bucknor said. "But if it doesn't work out I'll definitely go overseas and work my way back to another opportunity to play here."

Another player who impressed the Raptors yesterday was Cincinnati product James White, a 6-foot-7 forward known for his high-flying dunks and tenacious defending.

Kelly said White has turned heads at various NBA workouts, and yesterday was no exception. White, who could play shooting guard or small forward as a pro, is slated to be drafted late in the first or early in the second round.

"He had a very impressive workout," Kelly said. "He shot the ball very well (and) he comes from Cincinnati, which is known for its toughness and hard-nosed defence. He was there for three years and I guess some of that has rubbed off on him."

White averaged 16.3 points and 5.1 rebounds last season.

The NBA will play host to a pre-draft camp in Orlando next week. The Raptors will continue their workouts in two weeks.


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