It was a little over two years ago that one of our writers, Ryan ZumMallen, texted JJ and I and said, "Hey, this kid from Compton DeMar DeRozan is going to be in the NBA in two years, and he's playing at Lakewood tonight. We should probably go check him out." Last night, DeRozan completed his relatively short journey to his dreamworld, when he was called up to the podium as the ninth overall draft pick. He'll be heading across the border to play for the Toronto Raptors.
DeRozan was projected to go anywhere from third to fifteenth, but with the Raptors he's almost guaranteed a lot of minutes next season, so the nineteen-year old will be on ESPN soon enough. Raptors head coach Jay Triano told his team's local paper, the Globe and Mail, that "it was very close in the room. We have a lot of arguments [about whom to pick' but every night when we left, DeMar DeRozan was still at the top of our list."
We'll let you know when he signs his deal, officially finishing off his journey to a dream that so many young players have, and so few see realized. And for those of us left in Long Beach, and Compton, we'll have the joy of rooting for him as he travels down the (hopefully long) path of his career. And we'll of course be left with the memory of that night in the Lakewood gym, when we watched a 17-year old kid pass the ball to himself off the backboard, and dunk it.