From the Toronto Star:
It is not by happenstance that Greivis Vasquez is a Toronto Raptor today. The coach, friend and confidant who saw such promise in a 17-year-old Venezuelan made sure it would happen.
“He’s just a very unique kid, very outgoing, very, very competitive but very respectful,” says Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri.
And Ujiri should know. He’s been tracking Vasquez since he was a prodigy growing up in Caracas.They struck up a friendship. Ujiri saw unbridled enthusiasm and promise in the teen and when Vasquez was looking for a place where his game could flourish, Ujiri helped to place him at a prep school, Montrose Christian in Rockville, Md., where another friend was the head coach and three of Ujiri’s Nigerian prospects also played.
The friendship blossomed, as did Vasquez.
A prep school teammate of Kevin Durant, Vasquez went on to spend four years at Maryland. He was picked by Memphis in the first round of the 2010 NBA draft (Ujiri and then-Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo tried feverishly to add a pick to take him) and has become a solid NBA guard, now in his fourth season.
All because Ujiri saw something special in the young talent and he was proved right, and because Vasquez was willing to leave his homeland, his friends, his family and thrived thanks to Ujiri’s help, encouragement and reputation as a man who genuinely cares.http://www.thestar.com/sports/raptor...ff_for_gm.htmlA testament to Ujiri’s scouting skills — and that’s where he cut his teeth in what’s turned out to be a tremendous NBA leadership role — is that he saw something special in the teenager, both as a player and a man. One of the attributes Ujiri likes most in players is competitiveness and drive. He says Vasquez has that 10 times over and always has.
“Greivis was such a good kid, such a wonderful young basketball player and a good kid,” Ujiri said. “He had goals in his life that all revolved around basketball.”
And when the chance came for Ujiri to add him in the deal that sent Rudy Gay to the Sacramento Kings, it was a no-brainer.
“Every now and then when he was in Denver, he used to tell me, ‘I’m going to get you on my team’ and now I’m on his team,” Vasquez said. “It’s been a pleasure. I am very happy in Toronto and hopefully it is a long-term relationship. It’s always good being with someone that really cares about you and knows where you’re coming from.”
Will the loyalty result in a mentor-discount this summer? :P
**And the funny thing is all I can think about after reading this is: "We're going to get Kevin Durant!" - LoL**