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DeRozan goes it alone Add to ...

Demar DeRozan was drenched in sweat and his feet were dragging by the time he took his last shot Wednesday, the price he pays for having all eyes on him.

The Toronto Raptors put DeRozan through his paces at the Air Canada Centre as one of the players they're interested in with their No. 9 pick in the June 25 draft.

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The 19-year-old forward from the USC Trojans, a projected top-10 pick, is one of several top prospects that have opted to go it alone for in pre-draft auditions. He made the decision with his agent Aaron Goodwin, one that can prove risky but smart if all goes well.

"I felt like coaches get the chance to see everything I've improved on without paying attention to other players, their whole focus is on me," DeRozan said on his decision to go solo.

"It's not (easy), but you get in good reps, it gets you in better shape, prepared for how the NBA life is, playing one night, travel, play again."

Only a day earlier, a group of six players had come through the ACC - Duke guard Gerald Henderson, Florida State guard Toney Douglas, Buffalo guard Greg Gamble, Marquette guard Jerel McNeal, Ohio State centre B.J. Mullens and Washington State centre Aron Baynes.

Arizona power forward Jordan Hill and UConn's Hasheem Thabeet have been making the solo rounds.

"I guess that's the agents trying to protect their players a little bit, the top guys will normally do that," said Raptors assistant GM Masai Ujiri. "The negatives: they get tired, they're alone, and the repetitions are a little bit hectic for them.

"The positive is we get to see precisely some of the things you see in a workout, things like footwork, form, and you can measure how tough a kid is, how hard he wants to push himself by himself because it is a difficult workout, to be honest."

The six-foot-seven, 220-pound DeRozan had former Raptor Alvin Williams - who will officially join Toronto's staff as soon as his contract is finalized - as his main opponent Wednesday.

DeRozan is an athletic player who's one of the draft's most-hyped prospects. Scouts see plenty of potential, especially considering the steep improvement he showed in his lone season in California.

He averaged 21 points and 9.0 rebounds in leading USC to the Pac-10 title, earning tournament MVP honours.

Ujiri said he needs to work on his shooting, but sees in him a bit of Philadelphia's Andre Iguodala, Portland's Travis Outlaw or Charlotte's Gerald Wallace.

"Those are guys we kind of compare him to, athletic guys in the beginning, they were crazy athletes, but the game was yet to be put together," Ujiri said. "I think those guys have put their games together. He has to work on a couple of things, but I think he's a great athlete, a great kid.

"It almost always pans out. They work hard, it might take a couple of years, but I think he grows into being a good player."

DeRozan's decision to leave USC to enter the draft after his freshman year wasn't easy, but he wanted to get working to help take care of his family. His mom Diane suffers from Lupus.

"Sometimes it's bad sometimes it's good," he said. "That's something I want to get taken care of so she can enjoy her life. To be in the situation to come to the NBA is great, to help my family, that's something I'm really looking forward to doing."

Oklahoma forward Blake Griffin as the No. 1 pick is the only sure thing in this year's draft. After that, it's anyone's guess. Most mock drafts have the Raptors taking either DeRozan or Henderson.

Davidson guard Stephen Curry - the son of former Raptor sharp-shooter Dell Curry - declined to work out for Toronto, based on the belief he'll go earlier than No. 9.

"You can read into that what you like to read into that," said Jim Kelly, the Raptors senior director of player personnel. "He's shut off his workouts a couple of spots lower than us."



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