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Raptors Begin Pre-Draft Workouts At ACC

Related: Raptors 2010 Draft Central | Hayward Bio | Bradley Bio | Warren Bio | Robinson Bio
Video: Hayward | Bradley | Discussing the Workout | Devlin's Vlog
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Jay Satur - Raptors.com

May 31, 2010


The Raptors held their first pre-draft workouts at Air Canada Centre on Monday, with a quartet of forwards and guards taking the floor of their practice facility under the watchful eyes of the coaching and front office staff.

But while the invitation was to see how prospects Willie Warren, Avery Bradley, Gordon Hayward and Stanley Robinson might add the Raptors’ roster going forward, the buzz among the huddled masses was focused on another potential subtraction.

For those without access to either the internet or Turkish TV in their digital cable package, Hedo Turkoglu created a stir over the weekend by reportedly expressing his desire to play elsewhere after year one of a five-year pact signed with Toronto last summer.

Raptors management had no comment about the clip on Saturday and remained tight-lipped on the matter Monday, with Senior Director of Player Personnel Jim Kelly the only member of the organization to speak with the media following the workout.

“It’s challenging,” Kelly said of the potential roster uncertainty. “Clearly we have some things ahead of us that we need to clean up and straighten out. That will have an influence on where we go in the draft as well as looking for the best possible player for the team.”

Turkoglu's potential departure suddenly adds even more uncertainty to the Raptors’ roster heading into an offseason with several other key decisions to make. If Turkoglu is moved, a ‘worst-case scenario’ up front could also see the Raptors in need of replacements for free agents Rasho Nesterovic, Amir Johnson and of course, Chris Bosh.

Luckily, this year’s draft class seems to be loaded with promising forward and centre prospects and perhaps none has improved their stock as significantly in the past few months as Gordon Hayward, who drew plenty of attention as he lead the Butler Bulldogs to an improbable NCAA Finals run.

“Wild ride, hectic, surreal and magical. Every synonym to that,” the baby-faced Hayward said of his recent ride from anonymity to potential lottery pick. “It’s been just a lot of fun and exciting these past three years for me because I had a growth spurt and sort of came out of nowhere.

“So for me it’s just all happening really fast and like I said, it’s exciting for sure.”

Countering Hayward’s versatility was high-flying UCONN senior Stanley Robinson, a player projected to go late in the first round, but a prospect that Kelly said is “probably as athletic a player as there is in the draft.”

Of course, the Raptors holes may not be limited exclusively to the frontcourt. Consider Bryan Colangelo’s mention of his desire to reevaluate the point guard position last month and it makes sense that the six-foot-two Bradley would warrant consideration.

Although he came up as a point guard, Bradley cut his teeth in the NCAA with the University of Texas as a two. Given the recent resurgence of speedy athletic point guards, Bradley feels that the transition back will be a smooth one.

“There’s a lot of guards that are in the league that played the two and now are becoming ones," said Bradley, after noting how his game is frequently compared to that of the Thunder's Russell Westbrook. "It’s just a whole different game and I really think the NBA is going to help me out a lot.”

Warren, who was touted as a possible lottery pick last season, had a tough year in his return to Oklahoma due to an ankle injury and reports of attitude issues. His projected draft range has tumbled as a result and while Kelly suggested that the Raptors likely aren’t looking to trade down, he wouldn’t rule out adding another selection.

“There is always the possibility of picking up another pick, especially as we get into the workouts here where we get attracted to one player who came in and personality-wise and basketball-wise you say ‘man, this is the guy we should try to get on our team,’ but maybe he’s not a 13th pick or maybe he’s a little bit deeper than that.”

Prospects continue to visit Air Canada Centre on Tuesday and Thursday before the Raptors’ brass move on to group workouts with other teams next week.