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Friday's Workouts

TAJ GRAY:
Who is he?
6-9 Senior forward from Oklahoma.

Last Year: Averaged 14.2 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game for the Sooners. A second-team All-Big 12 selection by league coaches and was named to Big 12 All-Defensive Team.

What Can He Do? Gray is a true back-to-the-basket low-post presence. While he prefers to go right, he has an effective array of post moves and is a great finisher on the break due to his athletic ability. Defensively Gray uses his lateral quickness, length and athletic ability to lock his man down and is one of Division I's better defensive players at his position. His face-up game needs work and he could stand to put on some weight but people forget that Gray was a Juco transfer thus playing DI ball for only two years and therefore he stands to keep improving.

The Bottom Line: Gray's senior season was actually not as good as his junior one with Oklahoma and therefore he may have more to prove than most in workouts. Scouts will want to see if he measures out at a legit 6-9 as well as currently he is almost a bit too reliant on his athleticsm for rebounding purposes. Comparisons have been drawn by many to Chris Wilcox especially in terms of athletic ability but the comparison doesn't apply otherwise as he was one of Coach Sampson's hardest workers. As an example of this, Gray improved on almost 60 per cent free throw shooting in his junior season to a respectable 71 per cent last season - something done by simply lots of work.

ALLAN RAY:
Who is he?
6-2 Senior guard from Villanova.

Last Year: Averaged 18.5 points, 1.4 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game for the Wildcats. Naismith Award Finalist, Wooden Award Candidate, NABC Second Team All-American, Sporting News Second Team All-American and Big East First Team All-Conference.

What Can He Do? Simply put, score. Ray was one of the NCAA's most explosive scorers who has legitimate NBA range and shot 37 per cent from beyond the arc and almost 90 per cent from the free throw line last season. He played in a dynamic four guard offense at Villanova and his one-on-one skills enabled him, along with teammates Randy Foye, Mike Nardy and Kyle Lowry to cause match-up havoc for opposing teams. The concern however is that now in the NBA, what position will Ray play? He's small for the shooting guard position and NBA teams will want to see if he can run a team. Defensively Ray is effective but once again, if he needs to guard taller, stronger and faster shooting guards in the league, he may have problems.

The Bottom Line: Many will remember Ray for the horrific eye injury he sustained in this past Spring's march to the Final Four. The fear at one point was whether or not Ray would be able to see well enough to resume his career yet here he was on Friday, working out for a shot in the NBA. Ray should find himself selected in the second round based on his scoring and shooting ability and if he can show some point-guard knowledge he may even find himself as a high second-round selection. His size however will in all probability keep him from hearing his name called in the first 30 picks. In terms of seeing him in a Raptors' uniform however it's probably unlikely as there are just too many other real point guards which Toronto will be able to choose from in the second round.

JAMES AUGUSTINE:
Who is he?
6-10 Senior forward from Illinois.

Last Year: Averaged 13.6 points, 9.1 rebounds and .7 blocks for the Fighting Illini. First-Team All-Big Ten selection by league coaches and second-team All-Big Ten selection by the media.

What Can He do? At 6-10 with great length, agility, hands and quick feet, one may wonder why Augustine is slated as a late first-round or even mid second-round pick. The answer? Desire. Augustine has all the physical tools to be a good power-forward in the league but at times seems hesitant and lacks focus. Anyone who watched Illinois the past few years saw this regularly as you just weren't sure if the inside/outside double-double threat Augustine would show up or not. This is also reflected on the defensive end where a player with his length and athletic ability (quite impressive for a player his size) should be able to average more than .7 blocks a season.

Bottom Line: Augustine should find himself as a late first-round pick in this year's draft. He's been working out quite well showing off his athletic ability and shooting touch and a team in need of another post presence such as the New Jersey Nets would probably be a great fit for him. Unless he drops into the early second round and the Raptors feel they need assurance behind Bosh, he'll probably be playing somewhere else next season.

MARCUS VINICIUS DE SOUZA:
Who is he?
6-9 Senior forward from San Carlos.

Last Year: Averaged 19.5 points, 3.9 assists, 6.6 rebounds and 2.2 steals in the Paulista tournament - the premier regional tournament in Brazil.

What Can He Do? De Souza, or "Marquinhos," as he's known, is one of the draft's top foreign prospects. He's a point-forward in the Scottie Pippen mould due to his size and ball handling abilities and he runs the court like a much smaller guard. Marquinhos has a great looking shot too with a high release making it quite difficult for defenders to block. On the defensive end is where Marquinhos tends to struggle as he's still learning how to "body-up" opponents and play latteraly with his feet. However he has all the tools needed to become a tremendous player in the league gathering comparisons to such players as Boris Diaw and Rashard Lewis.

Bottom Line: Based on his improvement strength-wise this past year and his all-around skill set Marquinhos is a lock for the first round, possibly even close to a lottery pick if he continues his excellent workouts. Marquinhos has already entered the past two drafts and withdrawn after testing the waters so it's obvious he's adamant about playing in the league. In fact, he's expressed a desire to go up against other top prospects such as Rudy Gay and Rodney Carney and if this does take place, it will be interesting to see how De Souza performs. From a Raptors' perspective it would be intriguing to have a player like Marquinhos on their roster giving opponents matchup fits. Sure the Raptors have a player like this in Villanueva but if Colangelo is truly building Phoenix East, he'll snatch up such a versatile player if he somehow falls into the top of the second round.

Workout Summary: Raptors' brass let it be known that indeed part of the intent of this workout was to gauge Ray and Marquinhos' point-guard skills and have them play with some bigger players in two-on-two situations. Unfortunately this was not quite to be as Taj Gray sprained his ankle early in the workout and was done for the day. The workout shifted focus slightly after this and must have been disappointing for all involved.

From a Raptors' perspective De Souza and Gray are the two players I think would be most interesting as second round picks. As mentioned, De Souza likely won't fall that far but if so, Toronto will have to give some serious thought about drafting him especially considering Colangelo's success with foreign players such as Diaw and Barbosa. Taj Gray stated that he'll want to return to Toronto once his ankle is healed to show the team what he can do and this would be a great situation if possible. Gray is more of a typical power forward but would be another hard-working athletic big for the Raptors who would be better served backing up Chris Bosh than Matt Bonner.

FRANCHISE