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DeMar DeRozan Ready for Toronto

Jul 15, 2009 – 11:32 PM
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Gary Washburn

Gary Washburn %BloggerTitle%

DeMar DeRozan LAS VEGAS - After dropping 20 points in 32 minutes in Toronto's 74-73 victory over Phoenix, DeMar DeRozan expressed excitement about playing in Toronto -- and he was very serious.

DeRozan said he had a dream before the NBA Draft that the Raptors would select him 10th, and although the city has not been able to retain its stars -- Marcus Camby, Damon Stoudamire, Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady -- for the long run, DeRozan wants to buck that tradition.

"I am real excited [about Toronto]," he said. "I can't wait to get started, get out there and live and get the feel for everything. I think that was the best situation for me. I told everybody the day before I got drafted. I told my mom and [everyone] I wanted to go to Toronto. And I got picked by Toronto."

DeRozan has emerged as one of the more impressive players in Summer League. At 6-foot-7, he has the legitimate size for a small forward, but his athleticism and length make him a matchup nightmare. Just ask Phoenix's Taylor Griffin, who had to defend DeRozan on Wednesday.

Just four months ago, however, DeRozan was an uneven freshman guard at USC who had yet to make a significant impact. Then came the Pac-10 Tournament, when he turned into Vince Carter and was named the tourney's MVP.

"I just found my comfort zone and stuck with it and ran with it," he said. "And the beginning of the season, I wasn't as comfortable as I was going into the middle and end of the season. At the end of the season I got better, I started to figure it out. I didn't know [I would enter the draft] until about a week after we lost in the NCAA Tournament. I sat down and talked to coach [Tim] Floyd and he really gave me good advice and said do what's best for you and that's what I did."

Leaving USC was likely the best decision for DeRozan for many reasons. A few weeks after he declared, Floyd resigned because of potential NCAA violations, and the team will undergo a major rebuilding project under new coach Kevin O'Neill.

"It was shocking, coach Floyd was a great coach," he said. "And that university was on the rise with him there and all the players he had coming in. It's unfortunate for that to happen. It's real surprising. It's been up and down for the basketball team and I just wish the best for them. They should be all right."

And DeRozan will be fine in Toronto.
Filed under: Sports