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Thursday's Workouts: More Forwards

Workout week continues on Thursday as the Raps bring in four forwards: Connecticut high schooler Andray Blatche, Connecticut sophomore Charlie Villanueva, Syracuse senior Hakim Warrick and Oklahoma State’s Joey Graham.

Here’s’s breakdown of Thursday’s four prospects:

Who is he? 6-11 power forward from South Kent Prep in Connecticut.

Last Year: Averaged 24.4 points and 18.1 rebounds for South Kent Prep. MVP of the Jordan Classic with 26 points and 16 rebounds.

What Can He Do? Blatche plays like a Kevin Garnett wannabe, which drives a lot of scouts batty. He is long and athletic and runs the floor well. He is quite skilled for a big man, yet fell in love with the perimeter last season. He is an excellent rebounder and a good shot blocker, similar to Steven Hunter in this regard. His jumper is decent, yet inconsistent.

However, Blatche is a project and a long-term one at that. He drives many scouts crazy with his inconsistency. His interior game seems to be non-existent, a strange flaw for a seven-footer. Blatche needs to improve his low-post game significantly.

The Bottom Line: The buzz word for all drafts is “upside”. Blatche has plenty of upside. This will get him drafted sometime late in the first round. Unless he inexplicably falls to 41, don’t expect to see him as a Raptor very soon.

Who is he? 6-7 forward from Oklahoma State.

Last Year: Averaged 17.7 points and 6.2 rebounds in 33 games for the Cowboys.

What Can He Do? Graham is a hard-working player with an NBA body. He bench presses over 400 pounds. He rebounds well and is a good defender. He is beginning to extend his range and his offensive game is reliable. He is an excellent athlete who excites crowds with his dunking ability. Some scouts compare him to Corey Maggette.

However, his game still has some weaknesses. His handle and court vision are merely average. Despite being 6-7 and athletic, Graham is not a very good shot blocker. His jumper, while improving, is still inconsistent. He also tends to get into foul trouble, fouling out of five games last season.

The Bottom Line: Graham projects to be a mid-first round selection, meaning that he could still be on the board when the Raptors pick at 16. He would bring athleticism, excitement and experience to the team that selects him.

Who is he? 6-11 sophomore power forward from Connecticut.

Last Year: Averaged 13.6 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 31 games for the Huskies.

What Can He Do? Villanueva is what most teams crave: a talented big man. His game is strong, both inside and outside. He can take his man down low and score in the post, while also stretching his defender out to the three-point line. He is a matchup problem for any opponent. He rebounds well and is a strong weakside defender, blocking almost 2 shots a game.

Unfortunately, Villanueva’s drive has never equaled his talent. He was prepared to enter the 2004 draft, straight out of high school. However, he bombed his workout so badly that most scouts in attendance left almost immediately after he started. His attitude and work ethic have improved somewhat under Huskies coach Jim Calhoun, but they still need work. He also tends to be a lazy defender at times.

The Bottom Line: Oh Charlie, where art thou? Where art thou going to be drafted? Much like Queens of the Stone Age, no one knows. Some say that he could go to New York in the lottery. Some have him slipping to the late first round. Where he gets drafted will depend on his workouts. His skill set would be tempting to the Raptors at 16, but his attitude may scare them off.

Who is he? 6-8 senior forward from Syracuse

Last Year: Averaged 21.4 points and 8.6 rebounds for Syracuse. Went for 35 and 36 in back-to-back games against St. John’s and Providence in February.

What Can He Do? Warrick is an athlete, plain and simple. He makes you want to watch him play. He is long and athletic and will dunk on anyone. Royal Ivey still has not recovered from the teabag he received from Warrick in the 2004 NCAA tournament. He runs the floor well and represents a matchup problem for his opponents. He is too long for 3s to guard him, too fast for most 4s to guard him.

The issue for NBA scouts is where he plays in the Association. Unless he adds bulk, he can’t possibly play 4, yet his jumper is much too inconsistent to play 3. He’ll need to work on his low-post moves and his handle to make an impact in the pros. For such a long player, Warrick is a below-average shot blocker.

The Bottom Line: Another wild card. Warrick could go anywhere from late lottery to late first round. If available at 16, the Raptors should take a long look at him. He is experienced, comes from a winning program and would bring some much needed excitement to the Air Canada Centre.

Wednesday: Garcia, Hodge, McCants and Miles
Tuesday: Battle, Homan and Taft
Friday: Gomes, Mendez, Roberts and Simien
Thursday: Doornekamp, Rothbart and Schenscher

- Jeff Chapman