Chiriaev remains on NBA's radar

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:41 AM ET

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- He's back.

Russia native Ivan Chiriaev, the 7-foot-1 small forward who played high school basketball at St. Thomas Aquinas in Oakville for two seasons (2002-04), automatically is entered in this year's NBA draft and is listed in the draft's media guide.

Chiriaev, 21, who has bounced between the professional Russian A and B leagues with Dynamo Moscow the past two seasons after dropping out of the draft as an early entrant the past two years, is an extreme long shot to be selected. But his handlers remain optimistic about his NBA chances and are anticipating Chiriaev having an opportunity to play for the Canadian national team.

Justin Zanik, Chiriaev's agent, said more than 10 teams are interested in working out his client, who remains in Russia while awaiting clearance to enter the United States. He hopes to organize workouts next week.

"Is he ready to play in the NBA today and make a significant impact? No," Zanik said.

"But how many guys in this draft actually are? He has the talent level to be an NBA player down the road."

Chris Van Zyl, Chiriaev's Canadian advisor, said the player turned down an opportunity to play for Russia's national team because he wants to play for Canada. Van Zyl said Chiriaev is in the process of applying for Canadian citizenship and will marry his long-time Canadian girlfriend in August.

Canada coach Leo Rautins would like to have Chiriaev playing for his team.

"He has expressed a very strong desire to play for Canada," Rautins said. "I'm very interested in a 7-footer who does the things he does. Plus, he wants to play (for Canada). The sooner we can get him in the fold, the better."

A source familiar with European basketball said it is unlikely Chiriaev will become a significant pro player.

RAPS ON THE MOVE

The Raptors now are affiliated with the Colorado 14ers of the NBA Development League.

The NBA changed its affiliation system for the 2006-07 NBA DL season.


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