Will Cherry was a very good college point guard at Montana and although injuries delayed his chance at making an NBA team, this potential Raptors rookie has done enough in preseason and in practices to get noticed. Remembering Cherry is fighting for the 15th spot on the roster as a third string guard, the Raptors can afford to consider a player based on fit, potential and professionalism. Cherry doesn’t have to be the best player the Raptors are evaluating in preseason, he only has to be the guy the team likes the best for the role available.
Toronto’s very vocal leader and backup point guard Greivis Vasquez knows what Cherry is going through and brings his own unique perspective to the situation.
“He is a very tough guard, plays extremely hard, works really hard, he just has to be consistent in his work,” Vasquez said. “Sometimes you don’t know what to expect, he is on that transition, but I think he is doing a great job. He has a good chance to make the team, so we will see what happens.”
As an undrafted college senior who played in the NBA D-League last year, Cherry looks a little older than one might expect from a rookie, but he is just that – a rookie and the transition to the NBA is tough.
“It has to be hard,” Vasquez said. “That is the only way you can stay in this league. He has to be mentally tough for whatever is going to happen to him now and just never give up because – I take myself as an example. I just had a conversation with one of the coaches – how many college guys went ahead of me (in the draft) and they aren’t in the league (now). How many guys had better hype (then) and are nowhere to be found.
“The strong survive and it’s all mental and (Cherry) gets it. The good thing about the NBA is you will always get a chance, but you have to be ready for that chance. You might not get right away, right when you want it, but when you get it, you have to be ready for the NBA because the NBA is not going to be ready for you”
Even if Cherry doesn’t stick with the Raptors this time, there is still a lot he can take away from this experience. An NBA training camp and preseason will help Cherry develop as a professional.
“The experience, the whole experience – you are on a winning team, fans are real excited, in a great city, he is experiencing something that not a lot rookies get to experience, so whatever happens to him, he is going to learn and move forward and do his best,” Vasquez said. “His attitude that is what I like the most. The way he approaches the game and how much he loves playing.”
Cherry was talented enough to get looks from NBA teams out of college despite his injuries at that time, but it how he approaches the game that will give him a shot at making the Raptors. The concept of team chemistry is huge in Toronto and Vasquez believes Cherry has the right stuff to fit into the Raptors locker room.
“In order for you to stay in this league, you have to never lose the concept of the game and what the NBA is all about,” Vasquez said. “You have to be very professional because coaches now would rather deal with a guy that doesn’t have as much talent but he is professional than dealing with a guy that is a locker room problem, doesn’t come to practice on time and stuff like that. He could be super talented, but coaches don’t want to deal with that now-a-days in the NBA.
“(Cherry’s) attitude is a great attitude and I think he is a very professional guy for being a young guy that is just getting into the league. I think he is going to be fine.”
The Raptors will have a tough decision to make on the weekend and Head Coach Dwane Casey has indicated they won’t decide which players get cut before they have to.
Going up against two three-year NBA veterans in Jordan Hamilton and Greg Stiemsma for the team’s final roster spot is tough, but those players are considered to be known quantities, Cherry has the rookie mystique of untapped potential. However, Cherry will be relying heavily attitude and professionalism in his attempt to get the Raptors to take a chance on him.
Toronto is bringing three players into training camp for a look to see if they can fill a role as the 15th player on the Raptors roster: center Greg Stiemsma, forward Jordan Hamilton and guard Will Cherry.
The Toronto Raptors signed 29-year-old center Greg Stiemsma to be the 17th man heading into training camp and there is definitely an element of competition between guard Will Cherry, forward Jordan Hamilton and Stiemsma for the final roster spot.
After three years in the NBA, Jordan Hamilton was out of a job this summer, so he took a hard look at himself and decided he needed to do something about it. The Toronto Raptors invited him to training camp to compete for a spot on the roster and a rejuvenated Hamilton has looked pretty good in preseason games.