TORONTO ( Associated Press) — The Toronto Raptors selected Arizona center Christian Coloco as the 33rd overall pick in the NBA draft Thursday night.
Raptors coach Nick Nurse said of Coloco, “Good shot blocker, really good defensive number.” “Ranked really high in all college basketball last year in several categories. Very good pick and roll player, and he has great feet.”
The 7-foot-1 Coloco played three seasons with the Wildcats, scoring a career-best 12.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game in 37 games as a junior.
“I spoke to him and he’s super, super excited to be here,” the nurse said. “Like, really, really glad we picked him.”
Coloco, 22, is from Douala, Cameroon, the city of Raptors All-Star forward Pascal Siakam’s birth.
“I’m sure it will be interesting to see those guys together,” said the nurse.
Raptors chairman Masai Ujiri and forward Precious Achiuwa are from neighboring Nigeria.
The 2019 champions, Toronto, returned to the playoffs this season after a one-year absence, but went 3-0 down in the first round before losing the six-match series to Philadelphia.
Despite being full of tall, athletic players, the Raptors’ roster had no one taller than 6-foot-9, which made the already daunting task of defending 76ers center Joel Embiid an even tougher challenge in playoff time.
“He definitely kind of slots in, possibly, in case of need, and also in roster balance,” Nurse said of Coloco. “Very exciting pick, I guess, for tonight.”
Coloco was the 2021-22 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Most Improved Player and All-Conference First-Team selection. He led the conference and finished 14th in the NCAA with 2.76 blocks per game, and tied the Arizona single-season record with 102 blocks.
Coloco was one of 10 semi-finalists for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Award.
Toronto’s pick, which originally belonged to Detroit, was scored with forward Thaddeus Young from San Antonio, guard Goran Dragic and Toronto’s first-round pick, 20th overall.
Last year, the Raptors picked Florida State forward Scotty Barnes with the fourth overall pick. Barnes was named NBA Rookie of the Year, joining Vince Carter and Damon Stoudamayr to win top rookie honors as a Toronto player.
The Raptors made the 33rd draft for the first time in the team’s history