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It's not hard to see why the Toronto Raptors would be interested in Ohio State draft prospect E.J. Liddell.

No, the 6-foot-7 forward isn't going to blow anyone away with his speed or overpower opponents with his size, but after three years in college, he knows what it takes to be a difference-maker on the court.

"Just bringing tons and tons of effort," Liddell told reporters in Chicago at the NBA Draft Combine. "I'm older than most guys in this draft so I feel like me bringing effort and heart that I've always done is just going to help me out."

The 21-year-old listed the Raptors as one of the handful of teams he's interviewed with ahead of next month's draft. They were one of two organizations to put him to work during the interview, he said, asking him to break down tape during the process.

For now, Liddell projects to be a late first-round pick, a little out of Toronto's range at the beginning of the second round. He averaged 19.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 2.6 blocks per game for the Buckeyes this past year before wowing scouts at the combine with a draft-best 35.5-inch standing vertical jump.

"My explosion is really good," he said. "I feel like people see it when I take my step to block a shot. I get really high and just time it well."

As a prospect, he compares himself to other undersized defense-first forwards.

"Guys like P.J. Tucker, Grant Williams, Paul Millsap, Draymond (Green). I just take pieces from their game offensively and defensively, like Draymond being able to pass," he said. "Just the heart that all those guys bring on the defensive end as well."

Toronto has had no qualms drafting older prospects in the past, having nabbed upperclassmen Malachi Flynn, Jalen Harris, Dalano Banton, and David Johnson in the last two drafts combined. Should Liddell fall into the second round due to his age, expect the Raptors to consider the Ohio State star as a potential second-round sleeper.

Further Reading

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