Prospects strut stuff for Raptors

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:08 PM ET

The Raptors have whittled their list of potential draft picks down to a half dozen or so, and four of them might have been in the practice gym Thursday.

Toronto worked out forward Patrick Patterson and point guard Eric Bledsoe, both from a Kentucky outfit Bledsoe called “pretty much an NBA team,” swingman Paul George of Fresno State and smooth Kansas shooting guard Xavier Henry.

Henry, Patterson and Bledsoe have long been considered blue chip prospects, each ranked third overall for their position in the rankings coming out of high school, while George is a late-bloomer who intrigues because he is a 6-foot-9 two-guard with great shooting ability.

Previous attendees Avery Bradley, Ekpe Udoh and Cole Aldrich have been connected to the Raptors, though it is quite possible they, along with Henry and Patterson, will be off the board when Toronto steps to the podium next Thursday.

Best player

Raptors director of player personnel Jim Kelly said the team will take the best player available, regardless of position.

“The number is probably down to about six or seven players, I can’t really say that we’ve pared down what position because I don’t think we’ll take a player by position,” Kelly said.

“You have to have a list, because the draft doesn’t revolve on us.”

Kelly said potential trades could affect the team’s thinking at 13 and also said the team has a separate group of players it likes and would consider should it add a second pick later on in the draft.

The veteran bird dog also cautioned against reading too much into individual workouts.

“You’re walking a thin line if you pick a player because he has, or didn’t have a good workout,” Kelly said.

“You try to build a book up on them. Look at where they were, where they are now, and where they might be in two or three years.”

The players in Thursday all are at various stages of development. Patterson, a junior, is considered an NBA-ready, meat and potatoes type of player. One who should be a contributor for years, but likely never a star.

Patterson sacrificed some of his stats in order to return to Kentucky to play with a loaded squad that boasted five potential 2010 first rounders.

Patterson, like the others on hand, had no idea where he might go next week.

“The top five, you can name them, after that, it’s anybody’s game,” Patterson said.

Henry, one of the most explosive scorers in the draft, concurred.

Wide open

“After (the top four or five) it’s wide open,” Henry said. “I just want to go to the right team. It’s about how you fit in.”

George is more of a darkhorse. He is taller than many forwards, but believes he will be able to play shooting guard and small forward at the next level.

“(He’s) long and a very talented wing player,” Kelly said.

Bledsoe is looking to prove he is a pure point guard after playing off the ball at Kentucky because of the presence of likely No. 1 overall selection John Wall.

Kelly is confident the Raptors have seen enough to make a call.

“(The scouting process) is a little like a final exam. We’ve done all the studying and we’ll be ready to make a decision when we have to,” he said.

ryan.wolstat@sunmedia.ca


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