Rookie OG Anunoby healthy enough to play in Raptors’ intrasquad game

VICTORIA — Toronto Raptors fans in Victoria got the first glimpse of rookie OG Anunoby.

Anunoby, who underwent surgery in January to repair a torn ACL, was a surprise addition to Thursday night’s open scrimmage at the University of Victoria.

The Raptors had been tight-lipped about the 20-year-old’s potential return, with some speculation he wouldn’t play until November.

Wearing No. 3, his preferred short shorts, and his brace around his right knee, Anunoby entered the intrasquad game to start the second quarter, and looking comfortable driving and cutting.

The Raptors believe they got one of the biggest steals, and one of the most versatile defenders, of this year’s draft when they selected Anunoby 23rd overall. The six-foot-eight, athletic combo forward averaged 11.1 points and 5.4 rebounds in his sophomore season at Indiana, but his college career was cut short when he tore his ACL.

The 2,300 seats in UVIC’s gym sold out quickly for Thursday night’s game, and fans lined up three hours early Thursday to get one of the 400 standing-room spots.

Head coach Dwane Casey addressed the crowd — dotted with dozens of red Raptors jerseys and even the odd teal Vancouver Grizzlie jersey — prior to tipoff.

“These players worked hard all summer to make you proud,” Casey said. “We’re so honoured to have the western coast of Canada behind us the way you are.”

The Raptors were making their training camp debut in Victoria, after three consecutive years at the Fortius Centre in Burnaby, B.C. Canada’s lone NBA franchise has held camp in numerous cities across the country as its looks to reach fans outside of Toronto. The Raptors held a kids camp and coaches clinic as part of their activities in Victoria.

They’ll practise once more on Friday before flying to Honolulu for a pair of exhibition games, Sunday and Tuesday versus the Los Angeles Clippers.

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