TORONTO - 12 months ago DeMar DeRozan carried the weight of an expiring contract into training camp as he prepped for his fourth NBA season with the Raptors. In many ways he was a different person with different responsibilities, different motivations. He had a lot to prove but he wasnt fully ready to prove it, not like he is now. He was still a young man. A year later, DeRozan finds himself in a similar setting - looking to end the Raptors playoff drought and reach the postseason for the first time in his professional career - but as training camp winds down and the regular season approaches, he appears to be a noticeably changed man. Now, hes a young adult. Fresh off the most eventful year of his life, the 24-year-old says he feels a lot older than his age suggests. The day after opening night will mark the one-year anniversary since DeRozan signed a $38 million extension keeping him in Toronto through the 2016-17 season. Since inking his new contact he put up career numbers playing in all 82 games last year, he participated in Team USAs minicamp this summer and more personally, he became a father. As he notes, he has grown up off the court just as much as he has on it. "I see a lot of film and a lot of pictures from my rookie year, my second year, my third year," DeRozan said in an interview with TSN.ca after a weekend practice in the Raptors gym. "You [can] just see how much Ive grown personality-wise [and] as a basketball player, especially now as a father, having a daughter and having [those] responsibilities to take care of. So its definitely [been] a major growth year." On May 12, DeRozan and his fiancee, Kiara, became first-time parents to daughter Diar; a day that forever changed his life, a day thats largely responsible for his transformation. "I cant even tell you in words, to explain it," he said, struggling to articulate how he felt in that moment. "It just put life all together for me and helped me understand the important things in life. Its definitely big, it means the world to me and theres not a word I can find to sum up the feeling." "It changes you most definitely for the better, it helps you become more of a man." Entering his fifth season, DeRozans growth has not gone unnoticed in training camp. As his coach and teammates have pointed out, that sense of responsibility and maturity has transcended his personal life and carried over on the basketball court where he seems poised to take his game to the next level. "Hes growing up," Rudy Gay has noticed of DeRozan. "Hes a father now, he has a family he has to provide for. Its the little things, not little things to him, but those little things on the outside make him seem more grown up, and he is. Hes spending more time in the gym, other than being with his kid. Hes really hungry and everybody around here sees it." "DeMar has grown," coach Dwane Casey echoed. "Hes grown as a person, as a young man, as an NBA player. Hes doing things now just instinctively where my first year, two years ago it was more teaching and talking to him about those situations where now theyre natural. So thats a sign of growth, thats a sign of maturity and he has really, really grown as a basketball player and most of all as a young man, which is great to see." Praised repeatedly throughout his time in Toronto for his unrelenting work ethic, DeRozan continued to refine his game this summer. When he wasnt changing diapers you could find him in the gym hoisting three-pointers - he would shoot until he made at least 300 per session - or perfecting an array of post moves he has displayed to perfection in the preseason. The fruits of his labour, for now, have resulted in a number of dominant moments during the exhibition season. Building off of last years improvement in the post, DeRozan has impressed with his footwork and creativity around the basket, getting to the rim and to the line with ease. He has handled the ball with confidence, passed out of double teams and shown improvement on defence. "Its beautiful because he is such a wonderful young man," Casey said of DeRozans evolution on the court. "Hes paid his dues, hes paid the price, hes put [in] his time in the gym. Hes done it himself. Every phase of the game hes worked on in the summer." To take the next step as an NBA player, DeRozan knows he has to put everything hes worked on together, staying consistent and efficient on both ends. While many professional athletes are motivated by money and the prospect of making more of it - something he already has covered, at least for the next four seasons - DeRozan is fuelled by his appetite to win and the fact that through four NBA seasons, he hasnt tasted much success. "[Making the playoffs] would completely mean everything," said DeRozan, now the longest tenured Raptors player (he and Amir Johnson are both entering their fifth year with the team). "Thats my biggest goal, just get us back there and get us back to winning and just get that joyful feeling again from the fans." Losing hasnt been easy on DeRozan, a born competitor, and hes done a lot of it since the Raptors selected him out of USC with the ninth pick in the 2009 draft. The team narrowly missed the postseason in DeRozans rookie season, going 40-42 before Chris Bosh bolted to Miami. Over the next three years Toronto had a combined record of 79-151. It hasnt been easy but its been a learning experience for DeRozan, an experience thats allowed him to play through mistakes and another contributing factor to the growth process. "When you go through rough times it helps you grow that much more and understand what you have to do to get better and help your team get better," he reflected. "Going through four tough years really helped me grow in every aspect. [Im] more of a leader, more of a man, more of an athlete." Leadership has been the biggest adjustment for DeRozan. A self-proclaimed recluse, he is reserved and mild mannered as a person but, with time, is becoming a more vocal player. "Hes still young," Gay pointed out. "I dont think people realize how young he is. You cant really expect him to know all the things there is. Hes played a lot of basketball but its a different kind of feel when youre playing winning basketball, and [its] not his fault at all, but now we have a team that can win and I think that everybody thats here that has won hes listening to and hes figuring out how to do it himself." "Everybody goes through it, Ive been through it so I can relate to him a lot," Gay continued, having also missed the playoffs in his first four seasons before reaching the postseason with Memphis in his fifth year. "Yeah, I can see hes hungry, hes talked about it a lot during the summer with me and I think we all are." DeRozan has experienced more in the last 12 months than most do in a single year. Hes come a long way since being drafted as a 19-year-old and playing his first game a couple months after his 20th birthday. Hes gone through things, both good and bad, that have forced him to mature faster than most people his age. Sometimes its easy to forget that hes only and just barely-turned 24. "Thats the thing about the NBA, you want players to dominate right now but when guys are young coming into the league its virtually [impossible]," Casey said. "I havent seen it happen yet and Ive been in [the league] now 21, 22 years. Any time a player comes in there is a growth process and you want it to happen yesterday but it takes time." "DeMar is right on schedule. Its time for him to do that, to grow and to be the player he was drafted to be. 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. Just ask last seasons Supporters Shield winners, the New York Red Bulls, who were resoundingly defeated last weekend by a rampant Vancouver Whitecaps in a match which produced two contenders for MLS Goal of the Week from Sebastian Fernandez and Pedro Morales.PHILADELPHIA -- When David Buchanan walked into the managers office after a rough outing in the minors, he didnt expect to leave a major leaguer. Buchanan sure pitched like he belonged in his debut. The 25-year-old righty threw five effective innings, Chase Utley hit a two-run homer and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-3 Saturday. Filling in for injured ace Cliff Lee, Buchanan (1-0) gave the struggling Phillies a lift. He allowed two runs and five hits, striking out two. He was pulled after one inning and four runs in his last start at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. A couple days later, manager Dave Brundage and pitching coach Ray Burris met with him to make sure he was fine. "After 15 minutes, I was walking out when (Brundage) said: Are you going to be ready when Chooch (Carlos Ruiz) calls for a fastball?" Buchanan said. "I stopped and he said it again. I was like, Are you serious?" Buchanan, who grew up a Braves fan in Georgia, had more than 15 family and friends in the crowd, including his parents. "This is what I thought about since I was a kid," he said. "Im overwhelmed with emotions. Its so humbling that so many people took the time out, got plane tickets and were here to see me." Ben Revere went 4 for 4 in his first game leading off since May 14 and Jimmy Rollins drove in two runs to help the Phillies snap a three-game losing streak. Jonathan Papelbon tossed a scoreless ninth for his 13th save in 14 tries. Dodgers starter Dan Haren (5-3) gave up five runs -- two earned -- and six hits, striking out seven in six innings. Buchanan retired the first three batters he faced on grounders before the Phillies gave him a quick lead in the bottom half. One pitch after catcher A.J. Ellis dropped his foul pop, Utley drove one out to right field for a 2-0 lead. Utley ended a homerless drought of 127 at-bats, dating to April 13. "I just missed it," Ellis said. "It was a bad play by me and it cost us the game." Revere started Philadelphias first with his first double since last July 8. One out later, Utley connected. Revere annd Rollins hit consecutive RBI singles with two outs in the second to make it 4-0.dddddddddddd Rollins hit .308 with two homers and had a .438 on-base percentage in eight games batting first, which used to be his spot throughout his career. But manager Ryne Sandberg put Revere back atop the order after benching him a couple games. "To be close to .300 this soon after ankle surgery is pretty impressive," said Revere, who is hitting .289 after missing the second half of last year following an ankle injury. Carl Crawfords RBI groundout in the fourth cut it to 4-1. Dee Gordon hit an RBI single with two outs in the fifth to get the Dodgers within 4-2. Revere reached on an infield single and went to third when Harens throw to first sailed down the right field line. He scored on Rollins groundout to extend the lead to 5-2 in the fifth. Yasiel Puig led off the sixth with a triple off Jake Diekman. Two outs later, he scored on Carlos Ruizs passed ball. Buchanan earned himself another start while Lee is sidelined. Lee has an elbow strain and its uncertain whether hell be ready when hes eligible to come off the DL. "Its an outing he can build on as we need him," Sandberg said. NOTES: Ruiz hit a foul ball that landed in a vendors bin that he was carrying over his head while walking up steps in the right field stands. Fans cheered the unsuspecting vendor, who gave the ball to a young boy. ... Buchanan is the first player from Georgia State to play in the majors. .... Phillies LF Domonic Brown left with mid-back spasms. Hes day to day. ... Dodgers SS Hanley Ramirez was a late scratch because of a sore left calf. ... Phillies 3B Cody Asche is day to day with a left hamstring injury. ... The Phillies placed RHP Luis Garcia on the 15-day disabled list because of a right forearm strain. Buchanan took his roster spot. Garcia had a 15.75 ERA in three appearances. ... Haren struck out the side on 11 pitches in the third. ... The Phillies are 12-3 on weekends, 9-22 the other five days. ... A.J. Burnett (3-3) faces Josh Beckett (2-1) in the series finale Sunday afternoon. Cheap NFL Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys Wholesale NFL Jerseys Jerseys From China Wholesale NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap Jerseys
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