The Raptors selected Barnes, a 19-year-old Florida state forward, with the No.4 draft pick on Thursday.
Barnes said he had some great encounters with Toronto before the draft, but didn’t feel the team would pick him.
“Once they called out my name it was really just a huge surge of excitement,” he told reporters on a video call. “When I went to my training day I had a really good training, being able to talk to people about their staff, really developing a relationship. “
The six-foot-nine, 225-pound native of West Palm Beach, Florida, averaged 10.3 points and 4.1 assists for the Seminoles last season and was named a Conference freshman. of the Atlantic coast of the year.
He was a defensive force, with 35 interceptions and 11 blocks in 24 games.
– Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) July 30, 2021
“I’m not backing down for anyone. It’s about how tough you are, what you’re willing to do. I’m ready to do these things, ”said Barnes, dressed in a brand new red Raptors, a white turtleneck and a sparkly white brocade suit. “I’m pretty tough on the ground, I have courage when I’m on the ground. I don’t get intimidated. “
Toronto’s latest addition has room for improvement, however, having managed 11-40 on three-pointers and shooting 62 percent from the line last season.
Barnes believes his shooting has “improved significantly” since the varsity campaign ended, but said he was ready to continue working on it during his transition to the NBA.
“If they feel they need to fix something, I’m ready to work with them to try and fix whatever they need,” he said. “I’m ready to do whatever it takes to try to be the best player I can be, to be that great player, to be at the top of the league, to be able to come day after day knowing that I am the best player on the field. .
“I’m trying to achieve greatness. “
Raptors head coach Nick Nurse believes Barnes is made for a special player, especially if he continues to play.
“He reminds me of two guys we already have – OG (Anunoby) and Pascal (Siakam),” Nurse said. “And if he can adopt the work ethic that they adopted to become as good as they have become, then he will have a chance to do similar things, I think. “
The coach envisions a roster that includes all three athletes on the field at once, instantly making the team harder to face.
“We like guys who can handle, pass, score, defend, bounce a little bit and kind of come towards you in waves with that,” he said. “And I think that gives us a chance to do it with the three guys. “
Still, there will certainly be growing pains as Barnes adjusts to the league, Nurse warned.
“I guarantee you he’s probably going to have a ‘Wow!’ moments, he’s probably going to have “Oh my God” moments. And then, hopefully, more “Wow! “Moments,” he said. “It will be ups and downs, like most young players. “
The Detroit Pistons selected Oklahoma State goaltender Cade Cunningham with the first pick on Thursday, while the Houston Rockets selected Jalen Green of the NBA G League Ignite second and the Cleveland Cavaliers took USC center Evan Mobley. third overall.
Some were surprised when NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced from the stage at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, NY, that Barnes was the Raptors selection with the fourth overall pick.
There were a lot of good players on the board at the time, Nurse said.
“There was a lot of work, discussions, thinking about which player would be the best for us,” he said. “And we just felt the combination of size, length, two-way player, possible road potential matched all of those things. I think he just kind of sniffed out some guys. “
Although Barnes has never been to Canada, he said he visited the Toronto Raptors-themed experience room in Tampa Bay, Fla., On his training day.
“It just showed me different things about the city. It’s a very beautiful city. It’s beautiful, ”he said, noting that his father was Jamaican and they had lots of families in Canada. “I really like the city, I really want to go and see it for myself. “
Barnes scores Toronto’s highest selection since 2006, when the Raptors picked Andrea Bargnani with the No.1 pick.
The Raptors also hold the 46th and 47th picks in this year’s draft.