BOUCHER LIV­ING HIS DREAM WITH RAP­TORS

Cana­dian for­ward inks two-way con­tract in Toronto af­ter im­pres­sive pre-sea­son

Windsor Star - - SPORTS - RYAN WOLSTAT rwol­stat@post­media.com

Canada’s bas­ket­ball team will have some Cana­dian con­tent this sea­son, though you’ll prob­a­bly have to head out to Mis­sis­sauga to see Chris Boucher in ac­tion. Boucher, 25, was signed to a two-way con­tract by the Toronto Rap­tors on Fri­day, mean­ing he can spend up to 45 days with the big club in 2018-19, while the rest of his time will be spent de­vel­op­ing in Mis­sis­sauga with Rap­tors 905 of the NBA G League. The six-foot-10 for­ward/cen­tre was born in Saint Lu­cia, but moved to Mon­treal when he was five and is seen as an in­trigu­ing prospect be­cause of his size, abil­ity to block shots and hit three­p­oint­ers.

Boucher had the crowd on its feet, chant­ing his name, sev­eral times on Wed­nes­day when the Rap­tors played an ex­hi­bi­tion game at Bell Cen­tre in Mon­treal and af­ter the game Boucher and head coach Nick Nurse talked about what an in­cred­i­ble mo­ment it was.

Now, Boucher’s dream week has been capped by an­other high­light.

Still rel­a­tively new to the sport, Boucher is raw and should get a chance to im­prove un­der head coach Jama Mahlalela and his staff with Rap­tors 905. Boucher’s story is a re­mark­able one. He dropped out of school at 16, was dis­cov­ered by chance and wowed with his nat­u­ral ath­leti­cism, even­tu­ally find­ing his way to col­leges in New Mex­ico and Wy­oming be­fore trans­fer­ring to Ore­gon.

As a Duck, Boucher set a school sin­gle-sea­son record for blocks and was later named to the PAC12 de­fen­sive team af­ter lead­ing the con­fer­ence with 2.6 blocks per game.

A torn ACL pre­vented him from be­ing se­lected in the NBA Draft, but Boucher played for Golden State’s af­fil­i­ate in Santa Cruz last year af­ter sign­ing a twoway deal and went on to av­er­age 11.8 points, 7.4 re­bounds and 2.1 blocks.

Boucher got into one NBA game for the War­riors be­fore be­ing waived.

The Rap­tors in­vited him to Sum­mer League in Las Ve­gas and Boucher turned some heads. “It’s un­be­liev­able. He’s come a long way in a very short … we’ve only been here a week, I had never seen him in my life un­til seven days ago,” Nurse said in Ve­gas.

Af­ter Boucher blocked six shots in one Sum­mer League out­ing, Nurse re­marked that Boucher smiled like a player know­ing he had seized an op­por­tu­nity when he took him out and con­grat­u­lated him.

On Thurs­day, Boucher blocked three shots in six min­utes against New Or­leans be­fore get­ting in­jured in a col­li­sion. Boucher beat out fel­low cen­tre Eric More­land, who av­er­aged 4.7 points and 5.3 re­bounds in 13.6 pre-sea­son min­utes, for a spot be­hind Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valan­ci­u­nas and Greg Mon­roe.

Keep­ing Boucher around was only one of the moves the Rap­tors made on Fri­day to get ros­ter com­pli­ant ahead of Wed­nes­day night’s reg­u­lar-sea­son opener against the Cleve­land Cava­liers. For­ward Deng Adel and More­land were waived, along with guards Kyle Collinsworth and Kay Felder.

Adel av­er­aged 8.5 points, 2.5 re­bounds and 12.3 min­utes in two pre-sea­son games and in­trigued Toronto’s brain­trust. How­ever, the team stuck with its plan to keep a big man as its sec­ond two-way player (combo guard Jor­dan Loyd was signed to a two-way con­tract back in July). Adel can now ink a two-way deal with an­other club, or, fail­ing that, agree to join Rap­tors 905 on a stan­dard G League con­tract.

It’s un­be­liev­able. He’s come a long way in a very short … we’ve only been here a week, I had never seen him in my life un­til seven days ago.

The Rap­tors will make a classy move in sign­ing swing­man Mal­colm Miller to an Ex­hibit 10 con­tract, per The Ath­letic’s Blake Mur­phy. These types of deals give play­ers a bonus even if they are waived (which is what is ex­pected to hap­pen, since Toronto will likely go with 14 play­ers on the ros­ter in­stead of 15 for lux­ury tax pur­poses) as long as they re­main with the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

That’s ex­pected to be the case with Miller, a smooth shooter who started four of his 15 ap­pear­ances with the Rap­tors last sea­son but has run into bad in­jury luck. Miller is ex­pected to re­hab from the torn labrum he suf­fered while at Sum­mer League, with Rap­tors 905.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.