Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Raptors' DeRozan Has Stepped Up to Become Team's Vocal Leader in Camp

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Raptors' DeRozan Has Stepped Up to Become Team's Vocal Leader in Camp

Article excerpt

Raptors' DeRozan team's vocal leader

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BURNABY, B.C. - Five days into the Toronto Raptors' training camp and a clear vocal leader has emerged.

DeMar DeRozan, who once preferred to let his game do his talking, has become the most talkative player, and said it's both by design and a natural evolution.

"Just being a leader. I'm just trying to take more of a leadership role and help this team win," an upbeat DeRozan said after practice Saturday. "I feel like I've been there in a lot of situations now, to where I can speak up and say stuff to get on somebody or get somebody going."

DeRozan was asked whether he has to force himself to talk.

"Naw, naw, that's easy now. I tell myself to shut up sometimes. It's been going good."

The 26-year-old is coming off a rough season that saw him miss 21 games early on with a serious groin injury. A year removed from his all-star season, he struggled to refind his form.

That's ancient history, and according to Patrick Patterson, DeRozan has been a vocal "ring leader" this week at practices at the Fortius Sport & Health complex.

"As far as talking to teammates or talking to guys standing on the sideline, making sure guys are paying attention, in tune with what the coaching staff is preaching to us," Patterson said. "He's always encouraging everybody. From the jump, DeMar is trying to take the reins of this squad."

DeRozan was in good spirits Saturday on the eve of Toronto's first pre-season game. The Raptors play the Los Angeles Clippers in a soldout game at Vancouver's Rogers Arena on Sunday.

Asked whether training camp ever gets old, DeRozan, who's in his seventh camp, said: "You always get excited, that feeling of going out there and competing. That never gets old, or at least not yet."

DeRozan said he finds the influx of new players such as elite defender DeMarre Carroll energizing.

"Everybody is coming out on both ends, definitely bringing the energy. Everybody is learning each other. Everybody is learning something new," DeRozan said. "We're all on the same page. Everybody has one goal. That's brought us together."

He said none of the new guys -- including Carroll, Bismack Biyombo, Cory Joseph and Anthony Bennett-- have taken him particularly by surprise. …

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