Raptors Pre-Draft Workouts Begin - Ennis, Appling Highlight First Sessions

Bruce Bennett

The Toronto Raptors' pre-draft workouts are underway and the HQ breaks down the participants in the first two sessions.

As mentioned on the site on Tuesday, the Toronto Raptors kick off their NBA Pre-Draft Workout schedule today, with sessions taking place I as type this down at the Air Canada Centre.  As we've done in past years, we'll be dropping by for many of the workout sessions that peak our interest the most.  But given today's slated participants, we've decided to sit this one out.

Tyler Ennis obviously is a very intriguing player and one that would be great to get a look at up close, however the rest of today's attendees are at best, late second-round prospects and frankly, my money is on the lot of them going undrafted.

No shame in that as part of this process obviously is not just to put on a good show in front of NBA teams, but also to peak the interest of other teams including those playing overseas, and many of these players will likely do just that.

So who's participating in today's workouts?  The first features six fairly under-the-radar names, while the second session later today, features full on Canadian content.

First Workout

Jake Odum - 6-4, G - Indiana State: Odum is a pass-first point guard who averaged 13 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists last season as a Senior at Indiana State.  He played four years there and did a nice job running the show for the Sycamores.  He's ranked as the 51st best senior prospect by Draftexpress.com.

Verdict: I can't recall every seeing Odum play in all honesty, so hard for me to make much of a call on his future as an NBA player.  All signs from various online draft spots would suggest that his game is better served for overseas considering his size (6-4 but only 169 pounds) and lack of elite athletic ability.  He also struggles to shoot the ball from long range hitting only 31 per cent for his NCAA career.

Keith Appling - 6-1, G - Michigan State: After Ennis, Appling is the top name on this bill.  The highly recruited guard started off his NCAA career with a bang, but fell under the radar over his final seasons at Michigan State. (And a wrist injury in the second half of last season didn't help.) Appling never really turned into the explosive top option many envisioned and now will likely have to hope he hears his name called at all on draft night.

Verdict: Appling is an interesting option for me in terms of Toronto's second-round picks.  While his game over the past few seasons never jumped off the page, you always got the feeling that Tom Izzo had him playing a much more conservative style than perhaps benefited his skill set, and he could be one of those players that takes off to a certain degree in the more open-style NBA.  His jumper is shaky (and let's not talk about his free-throw shooting), and he's not huge physically, but he's a great finisher at the rim, can run a team, and has terrific open court speed.  He's by no means a perfect option, but he does have what appears to be an NBA game, and I could see him at some point being an option as a future back-up point guard.

Jordan Dykstra - 6-8, F - South Dakota State: Dykstra averaged just under 16 points and 8 rebounds in his senior campaign with the Jackrabbits.  He can spread the floor (shot 43 per cent from long-range over his NCAA career) and was a key offensive option for his club last year, amounting for 22 per cent o fthe Jackrabbits' offense.

Verdict:  Another player I know very little about, Dykstra's skill set sounds like a great fit for overseas' play but perhaps his size and shooting ability gets him a look as a "Stretch-4" option for a team.

Ronald Roberts - 6-8, F - Saint Joseph's: Roberts finishes off a very solid NCAA career at St. Joe's, averaging 14 points and just under 8 rebounds a contest in his senior season.  Roberts helped lead the Hawks to an A-10 title last season, and an NCAA tourney birth, where they unfortunately fell victim to the eventual tourney champs, the UCONN Huskies.

Verdict: After Appling (and obviously Ennis), Roberts is the most interesting name on these lists.  Size-wise he's a bit small for the power-forward position at the next level and his offensive repretoire is pretty limited, but he's one of the best athletes in the draft, something he showed at the recent LA Clippers mini-combine.  Like Appling, there's upside here and as a tenacious defender and "motor" guy, he could be worth a look later in the draft, especially as a D-League stash option.  Having seen him play on a number of occasions in both A-10 and outside of conference play, he's a guy I've got circled on my "second-round options" list.

Norvel Pelle - 6-10, C - Delaware (NBA D-League): While I know very little about Dykstra and Odum I know zilch about Pelle, a player who withdrew from the NBA Draft last year.

Luckily, the good folks at DraftExpress.com have this video on Pelle, who talks about his strengths, background, and fondness of cartoons!


Jordan Bachynski - 7-2, C - Arizona State: The Calgary native averaged 11.5 points and 8.2 rebounds in his senior season with the Sun Devils.  Most impressively however, he averaged 4 blocks per contest, and finished his career as Pac-12's career blocked shots leader.

Verdict: Bachynski could easily hear his name called at some point in this draft.  There just aren't a ton of prospects with his combination of size and skill and while he isn't the quickest or most athletic player in the draft, he is an excellent shot blocker.  Obviously at the next level he's going to have to work on getting stronger and more mobile but the old adage "you can't teach size" applies here, and he's got a soft touch around the hoop.  Put it this way, Aaron Gray has carved out a nice role for himself in the league.

Second Workout

Tyler Ennis - 6-2, G - Syracuse: The marquee name in these workouts, Ennis had a sensational rookie season at Syracuse, and could easily end up being a lottery pick.  He averaged 13 points, 5.5 assists and was the Orangemen's steadying hand at the point all season.

Verdict: We'll have more on Ennis in the coming weeks but the basics are as follows.  Very solid point guard without the elite athleticism of a John Wall or Derrick Rose, but with a very similar physical profile to Damian Lillard, so there shouldn't be any concerns about his ability to hang with NBA athletes.  He's also a much more polished floor general than any of the previous names were at this stage of their career, a true rarity for most college prospects, especially ones with only a year of NCAA experience under their belts.

If he somehow falls to Toronto at 20, the Raptors will almost assuredly scoop him up.  However I'm betting he's long gone by then unfortunately.

Chadrack Lufile - 6-10, F - Wichita State: The Senior averaged 5.8 points and 5.0 rebounds last year for the Shockers and was a key member of their undefeated season.  His club unfortunately saw their NCAA title dreams go up in smoke after a loss to the Kentucky Wildcats in the third round of the tourney.

Verdict: While I can see some NBA skills here, I'd be surprised to see Lufile on an NBA roster next season.  He's not a great shooter, doesn't really stand out in any one way defensively, and while he's got good size, this is more than likely part of an overseas audition for Lufile, and a "Canadian Courtesy Call" by the Dinos.

Chad Posthumus - 6-11, C - Morehead State: Another Canadian invite, Posthumus averaged 9.2 points and 10.7 rebounds in his Senior campaign with the Eagles.  A big body down low, Posthumus was one of the better rebounders in his conference, especially on the offensive glass, where he grabbed four a game.

Verdict: Much like Lufile, this is mostly a "Canadian Courtesy Call" for Posthumus who doesn't have much of an NBA skill-set.  He could certainly find a nice role for himself overseas however.

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