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Summer Time In The City

The Raptors summer league begins July 8th as they will participate in the Southern California Summer Pro League along with the Dallas Mavericks, Miami Heat, Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Lakers. The Raptors then tip off against the New York Knicks July 15th in the Minnesota Summer League and will compete against summer league teams from the Minnesota Timberwolves, Milwaukee Bucks, Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks.

Raptors GM Rob Babcock has reported that he expects last year's rookies Pape Sow and Matt Bonner to join this year's draft picks Roko Ukic, Joey Graham, Charlie Villenueva and Uros Slokar on the squad. Among other attendees, Babcock has confirmed that Omar Cook, one of the pleasant surprises of last season's final few weeks, has been invited as well. Last year's first round pick Rafael Araujo has been given permission to miss both leagues to play for the Brazilian National team as it gears up for the World Basketball Championship qualifiers in August.

Several undrafted Canadians will be among the summer team attendees including center Nate Doornecamp of Boston College, Olu Famutimi of Arkansas and Jesse Young of George Mason. Canadian Juan Mendez, who was undrafted but invited to the summer league team, has turned down the invite to play for Miami's team instead.

This year's summer league should be quite competitive. Many talented players went undrafted this year due to the sheer volume and talent of players that declared. Therefore some interesting prospects will be available for teams to choose from. This includes big men such as Randolph Morris, Dwayne Jones and Deng Gai, talented swingmen like Kelenna Azubuike, Matt Walsh, Kennedy Winston, Rawle Marshall and Jawad Williams, savvy floor generals like Chris Thomas, Aaron Miles, Quemont Greer and Will Conroy, seasoned college vets such as Will Bynum, Chuck Hayes, Keith Langford, Jackie Manuel and Stephen Graham and talented players such as Sean Banks, Pierre Pierce, Shavlik Randolph and John Gilchrist who have had past off-court issues.

The Raptors entire summer league roster should be released in the next few days but it would be quite interesting to see if Babcock extends an invite to first round draft pick Joey Graham's twin brother Steven. While not as talented as Joey, Steven is another physical specimen with tremendous defensive and athletic ability who might be a great fit along with his brother.

Babcock has also mentioned his interest in former Duke star and Chicago Bulls draft pick, Jay Williams. Williams' career was threatened by a horrific motorcycle accident but is working his way back and looked well on the way to recovery during Chicago Pre-Draft Camp workouts.

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