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Southern California's DeMar DeRozan dunks during the second half of a second-round men's NCAA college basketball tournament game in Minneapolis.

Jim Mone

The Toronto Raptors had whittled their list of preferences for the ninth spot in the NBA draft to three by the time the picking started last night. All three were available and the Raptors chose DeMar DeRozan, the one they believe has the most long-term potential.

"It was very close in the room," Raptors head coach Jay Triano said. "We had a lot of arguments [about whom to pick]but every night when we left, DeMar DeRozan was still at the top of our list."

DeRozan is 6 foot 7 and a high flier with a 39-inch vertical jump. He averaged 13.9 points and 5.7 rebounds a game on 52.3 per cent shooting for the University of Southern California last season.

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His weaknesses are a lack of experience, having played just one college season, and range on his jumper, as indicated by the 16.7 per cent he shot from the three-point line.

Those shortcomings aside, Triano anticipated that the Raptors got a player who can be plugged into their rotation next season and possibly even the starting lineup.

"Absolutely," Triano said when asked if DeRozan was projected to play right away. "He's got a lot of potential and I don't know if you can find that potential sitting on the bench and playing restricted minutes every night. We have to find ways to get minutes, whether that means starting him early and having him play the first part of the first and third quarters and have him earn minutes that way, or if it's coming off the bench in relief, we've got to find some minutes for him."

The Raptors' other choices for the ninth pick included Jrue Holiday of UCLA, who was picked 14th by the Phoenix Suns, and James Johnson of Wake Forest, who was taken 16th by the Chicago Bulls.

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