March 26, 2007 - Toronto Raptors President and GM Bryan Colangelo, recognized as one of the brightest young executives in the NBA, has wasted little time in building the Raptors into a playoff contender in less than a year since joining the organization.

Colangelo
While the Raptors selected several key contributors in the 2006 Draft, Colangelo has also shown that he is not hesitant to use the NBA D-League when it comes to acquiring and developing young talent. Colangelo and the Raptors' latest foray into the D-League came on Sunday when they signed guard/forward Luke Jackson, the 18th GATORADE Call-Up of the 2006-07 season. NBA.com's Matt Wurst spoke with Colangelo, who discussed Jackson's signing and how he has utilized the D-League to improve his team's roster.


Q. With the recent slew of injuries that the Raptors have suffered, including the loss of Andrea Bargnani, how much does it help to have readily available options nearby in the D-League?
Colangelo:
"We were looking for a way to reinforce our group of shooters. We have a couple of situations brewing now: Bargnani is out after his appendectomy, Anthony Parker has been nursing a sore ankle and has missed multiple games, and it’s nice to have some options to turn to when you’re looking for a player to fill a void. The need that we had was for a shooter, and we were looking for someone with experience, which Luke has. He has used the D-League to work his way back from a series of injuries which made him ineffective early in his career, but he’s taking advantage of the D-League opportunity to get back to the NBA level.”

Q. What role do you see the D-League playing for NBA teams?
Colangelo: “For Luke and several others who have been called up, the D-League is a perfect opportunity to be seen by NBA scouts. There is good coaching there and it’s a high level of competition, so if you are consistently performing well at the D-League level with the NBA rules and NBA equipment, it’s a nice way for us to bring someone in who you know won’t miss a beat. All in all, you’re very comfortable knowing there’s this affiliation with the NBA, because it’s a natural destination for young NBA players to work on their game or for NBA teams to secure players when necessary.”

Q. Luke is the Raptors’ third call-up all-time, and the second since you’ve been in Toronto… you brought up Andre Barrett last year. Do you scout players in the D-League often?
Colangelo: “Yes, quite a bit, actually. This year, we utilized the D-League in sending down P.J. Tucker, who, unfortunately, we had to waive as a part of this transaction to free up a roster spot. We have a scout based in Denver who gets up to see the 14ers play regularly. We’ve also sent scouts out to make sure we’re aware of what’s there and how players are performing. Others within the D-League in various capacities have also been good sources of information when needed. So it’s helpful to have trustworthy and reliable people affiliated with the NBA who are there to help us out.”

Q. What do you think of the talent level and quality of play in the D-League. Do you feel that the player pool has gotten deeper and improved over the past few years?
Colangelo: “Simply by analyzing what has occurred over the last several years – the number of call-ups increasing, the level of scouting that now takes place, the level of talent both objectively and subjectively – you’d have to say that the D-League is a very valid tool for the NBA and developing young players. NBA teams are clearly utilizing it as a resource to either send young talent down to develop their skills or to call up young players when they’re needed. In Luke Jackson’s situation, we felt like we needed to add something to our team and Luke happened to be the right player at the right time.”

Q. What specifically impressed you about Luke Jackson? Is it more his experience at the NBA level or the fact that you think he’ll fit in well with the team’s dynamic?
Colangelo: “Both. He has NBA experience, he’s a known shooter and playmaker and he has a good feel for the game. He was a lottery pick in the NBA Draft who hasn’t really lived up to what’s expected of the 10th pick, primarily due to injury, who found himself on the short end of a roster situation following a trade to Boston.

“When he realized that his injury was a part of his perceived failures, he decided to get it surgically taken care of. So what better way to come back and get yourself NBA-ready than to go to the highest level of competition outside of the NBA? For the purpose of returning and getting his confidence back after the injury, getting a feel back for the game after a serious operation, this was an ideal situation for him. And it’s obviously worked to his benefit: We’re aware of what he’s been doing in the D-League and we’ve watched his progression from the start. He wasn’t quite prepared when he first came up with the Clippers earlier in the season, and again, it was a good gauge to see where he was in the recovery process. Now, based on our evaluation to date, it appears that he’s ready to make the jump back to the NBA.”