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Bosh replacement? Raptors select UNC forward Ed Davis with No. 13 pick in draft

At first glance, it might look like the Toronto Raptors swapped one six-foot-10 left-handed rebounding specialist for another.

TORONTO - At first glance, it might look like the Toronto Raptors swapped one six-foot-10 left-handed rebounding specialist for another.

The Raptors chose University of North Carolina forward Ed Davis with the 13th pick in the NBA draft Thursday, raising questions about his being a possible replacement for all-star forward Chris Bosh.

But Raptors coach Jay Triano said that regardless of what the future holds for his team in this uncertain off-season, Davis was a terrific catch at No. 13. Not only was he a player expected to go significantly sooner in the draft, he also fills a hole up front on a roster that will assuredly lose at least one big man.

"We didn't think he'd be available at 13, we thought he would be long gone, to have him keep sliding, we kept crossing our fingers that he'd keep sliding one more, one more, and he falls right into our lap, which was great," Triano said.

"When you look at the free agents that we have with Chris Bosh, Amir Johnson, Patrick O'Bryant, Rasho Nesterovic — that's four bigs," he added. "The fact that we got a big was great. Regardless of who signs, and who comes back and who plays, he's a big body and he's athletic and he fits the trend that the NBA is starting to move towards."

The six-foot-10, 225-pound Davis led the Tar Heels in rebounding, with 9.6 per game, blocked shots (2.8), and was second in scoring (13.4) in his sophomore season, but suffered a season-ending injury on Feb. 10 in a game against Duke when he broke a bone in his left — shooting — wrist.

The 21-year-old, who strode up on the stage at the Theatre at Madison Square Garden in New York dressed in a charcoal grey suit, was asked what he knew about his new Canadian home.

"My favourite player Chris Bosh plays there," he answered.

He later told Toronto reporters he's modelled his game around Bosh for the past three or four years.

"Because he's a lefty, 6-11, he can shoot it, he's just a good all-around power forward, top three best power forwards in the game right now, just a great player to model my game after," Davis said.

Whether the two will ever line up on the Raptors front court together remains to be seen as Bosh is set to become a free agent July 1, and hasn't so much as hinted at what his future plans are.

Raptors president and GM Bryan Colangelo said earlier this week that with so many questions surrounding his roster, he planned to take the best player on the board rather than necessarily pick a replacement for Bosh. Still, the similarities to Bosh are obvious.

Davis, the son of former NBA player Terry Davis, is known for his rebounding at both ends of the floor, and uses his length and explosiveness to block shots. One weakness is his face-up game.

"He needs to work on his jump shot," Triano said.

Bosh's Twitter feed was silent after NBA commissioner announced the Raptors' pick, amid chants of "U-S-A! U-S-A!" from the rowdy New York crowd. But the Raptors captain did tweet when Texas guard Damion James went 24th, writing: "Congrats to Damion James a.k.a. "Big Freshman"! I remember when he first got to high school...."

Davis was leading the ACC in field goal percentage (.578), blocked shots, was second in rebounding and 15th in scoring before his wrist injury ended his season. The Richmond, Va., native, who has trained at home with his dad during off-seasons, missed the final 13 games of his sophomore year, leading some to wonder if he'd be fully recovered come draft time.

The Raptors never brought Davis to Air Canada Centre for a pre-draft workout, but he was considered a potential top-10 pick for last year's draft before deciding to stay at UNC for another season. Triano said Raptors officials made numerous calls to check on Davis's health right up until moments before they made the pick, and he received a clean bill of health all around.

Davis said his dad, who played 10 years in the NBA, was a huge influence on him growing up.

"It prepared me a lot," he said. "He taught me a lot about this business, just really helped me understand how it is to be a professional and be a man, and he guided me through this process."

The elder Davis was known as a hard-nosed player, a part of his game his son always respected.

"Just how hard he worked, and how he was always working for everything he got, and all his playing time through his career, and that's the reason why he stayed in the league," he said.

Among his Tar Heels highlights, Davis was the third-fastest player in school history to block 100 shots (51 games) behind Rasheed Wallace (47) and Sam Perkins (50). He scored a season-high 22 points against Michigan State, and tied his career-high of 16 rebounds against Maryland.

The Washington Wizards, meanwhile, selected Kentucky point guard John Wall with the No. 1 pick. The Philadelphia 76ers took NCAA player of the year Evan Turner from Ohio State at No. 2, while Georgia Tech forward Derrick Favors went third overall to the New Jersey Nets.

Rounding out the top five, the Minnesota Timberwolves took Syracuse forward Wesley Johnson at four, while Kentucky forward DeMarcus Cousins went fifth to the Sacramento Kings.

Davis's selection marks the eighth consecutive year that the son of a former NBA player was taken.

The Raptors selected Southern California swingman DeMar DeRozan with the No. 9 pick last year. They went on to have another disappointing season, finishing second in the Atlantic Division with a 40-42 record to miss the playoffs.

 
 
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