DeMar DeRozan: All Eyes on Me

Robert Seagal-MisovicCorrespondent IJuly 3, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 15:  DeMar DeRozan #10 of USC looks on after a timeout in the first half of the game against Arizona State at Galen Center on January 15, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. The Trojans defeated the Sun Devils 61-49.  (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)

I couldn’t help but stop dead in my tracks as I was browsing around for a new video game at EB Games to kill some time now that University is out.

This kid, who was not a day older than 12, turns to his friend and says, “You see the guy the Raptors drafted? My brother said he dunks like Carter.“

It isn’t fair to put this much pressure on a 19-year-old, one year removed from being a local superstar in Compton, California, but he certainly isn’t the type to run from it.

He’s been searching for a nickname, and one that keeps surfacing is “heir Canada.” Is it warranted?

Among the GM’s in the NBA, there is no better a talent evaluator than Colangelo himself.

Having drafting Steve Nash, Amar’e Stoudemire, Shawn Marion, Michael Finley and Barbosa among others without ever having a top-eight pick, one must wonder how special DeRozan will be.

This is even more meaningful when considering that Colangelo claimed he has a chance to be better than both Stoudemire and Marion. Is he really the Carter clone he’s being made out to be?

If you ask DeRozan, he’d probably tell you he has his sights set a little higher, and that’s the point isn’t it?

He isn’t trying to be Kobe Bryant or Vince Carter. He’s trying to be better than them. Draft analysts will probably tell you he’ll likely be nothing more than Caron Butler without the jump shot.

He has a chance to be a lot better actually. When evaluating a prospect, you assess their talent, their willingness to learn, maturity, and anything that may get in the way of them actually achieving their potential.

However, what separates Bryan Colangelo from most GM’s is his unbelievable ability to evaluate a prospect’s mental makeup.

Take DeRozan for example. Even before the draft, he was singing praises about Toronto and how he wanted to end up here. Where’s his head?

It certainly isn’t the money, because he would have gotten a much better deal being a higher pick, and a great market to play in had he gone to New York at eight.

So why was Toronto the perfect fit? Ask him, and he’ll say the same thing he’s said to everyone who looks at him with confusion as a California kid professes that he wanted to end up in Toronto, Ontario of all places. “It was the best situation for me.”

Clearly DeRozan took a look at the Raptors dearth of wing players and saw a chance to play big minutes off the bat.

He saw an opportunity to make a name for himself on a team which is close to playoff contention and whose best players are two big men, a point guard and a free agent combo forward.

He didn’t want to play his way into the rotation and shy away from the limelight. He wants the lights on him, and if what he did in the PAC-10 tournament is any indication, this is one guy who shines when the lights are brightest and when the task at hand is most daunting.

Everything that comes out of his mouth is about growth, winning, willingness to work, and playing the game on both ends of the floor.

If DeMar DeRozan is getting nicknames like “heir Canada,” it isn’t because of his ridiculous YouTube highlights or his vertical leap. It is because he’s the biggest reason for hope this team has seen since Carter himself.

At the press conference, he was asked about the Carter comparisons. “It’s nice to be called Vince Carter and all, but at the end of the day, I’m...just DeMar DeRozan.” If he ends up as good as I think he’ll be, I think just DeMar will be just fine.