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Ulmer: Thompson, Joseph Enjoy Unique Homecoming

Related: Back To Draft Central 2011 | Ulmer's Blog: Q & A With Jim Kelly | Fifth Overall Picks In Photos
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June 15, 2011

Mike Ulmer - raptors.com

Cory Joseph didn’t know who Tristan Thompson was.

All he knew was that he didn’t like him. When you’re playing youth basketball, that’s all you need.

“He was on the opposite team. I saw a tall, lanky kid and I wanted to take out his knees,” Joseph said. “It was Scarborough Blues against Brampton Blue Devils. We won.”

“We were enemies,” Thompson grinned. “Now I love him like a brother.”

The pair were among six NCAA players auditioning at Air Canada Centre for Raptor coaches and officials in advance of next Thursday’s NBA Draft.

“He knows my bad habits, I know his,” said Thompson. “He knows what I like, I know what he hates. We know each other inside out.”

“I call him Tre,” Joseph said. “I have been calling him Tre since I was young or T-Square. He calls me CJ.”

The Raptors own the number five pick in the draft and while it seems unlikely Thompson, an unpolished player with tons of upside, will float up that high, the workouts could become more important should the club move around in the first round or acquire a second-rounder.

These days, Tre and CJ, both GTA products, are part of the NBA’s traveling workout show. They already trotted out their skills in a scrimmage in Houston and another in Milwaukee. This was a home date.

Both attended the same prep school in Nevada where they both earned McDonalds All-American status. Both left Texas after their freshmen seasons. Along the way, they have formed a tiny brotherhood of two.

“I’m tired of him,” Joseph groused of his longtime roommate. “I want him to leave me alone."

As a possible first rounder, Thompson leads the pair in pro potential. But for sheer abuse, Joseph is the runaway leader.

“His shot. That’s what I am on him about,” said Joseph. “His shot at the free throw line. I call him Baby Shaq at the free-throw line but he’s working on it.”

Indeed, Thompson put up Shaq like numbers with a 49 per cent make rate. Thompson, less inclined toward even good-natured abuse in a crowd said onlookers can’t fathom his roommates’ athletic ability.

“He’s more athletic than you guys see. I tell him to forget the layups, go up and dunk it. I get on him about that.” Thompson said.

Leaving Texas early represented a crimp in the North-South pipeline that provided Austin with a frenetic guard in Joseph and a six-foot-nine 227-pound defensive minded forward in Thompson.

The six-foot-three Joseph left the school with a splashy 10.4, three assists per game aggregate. Joseph played as a combo guard at Texas and brought the requisite foot speed and ability to penetrate and finish.

Thompson meanwhile, delivered 13.5 points a year and eight rebounds a game.

“Tristan, the best part of his game is when he plays five-on-five,” said Raptors director of scouting Jim Kelly.

“For his size, he really runs the floor really well. For sure, he’s a much stronger player than last year but I think his offence is a developing part of his game.

“As for Corey, I think he’s become more of a true point guard than he was two years ago when he was a little more of a scorer or a combo guard.”

In the end, the homecoming was a business trip. Still, it came with one perk.

“Having a lifetime friend kind of eases the process,” Thompson said. “It’s great.”