Bobby Webster reveals how long the Raptors have been tracking Christian Koloko

Raptors GM Bobby Webster discusses where they had Christian Koloko ranked on their big board, how long they have been following his basketball career and more.

Video Transcript

BOBBY WEBSTER: What was the best outfit of the night?

- Whatever he did, he wouldn't tell us.

BOBBY WEBSTER: Paolo?

- Yeah, I think he won best one.

BOBBY WEBSTER: He won best one?

- Yeah.

- I liked Bennedict's. He looked good.

BOBBY WEBSTER: Oh, Bennedict. Yeah, that looked-- it was Raptor colors, too.

- [INAUDIBLE]

BOBBY WEBSTER: [INAUDIBLE] But there were a few-- they weren't as colorful, they were a bit more muted this year, I thought. All right. What's up?

- How-- was there any possibility of you moving up in the draft or doing anything other than keeping your pick?

BOBBY WEBSTER: No. This year there wasn't a ton. I think we-- we laughed. We didn't have a call for the first hour of the draft. So it was fairly quiet this year.

- [INAUDIBLE]

BOBBY WEBSTER: What's the follow-up? No.

[LAUGHTER]

- Nothing out of line, Mike.

- Yeah.

- Bobby, Nick said that you-- the team's been keeping tabs on Koloko for a long time, that [INAUDIBLE] that happened a long time ago. Can you put us through how along you've been keeping tabs on him?

BOBBY WEBSTER: Yeah. I think first-- 2017, Basketball Without Borders, I believe, in South Africa, was the first time he kind of came on the scene. Then he-- I'm trying to get the timing right. Then he came to the States. He was in Los Angeles. His sister was there. And he went to high school at the, I think, well-known Sierra Canyon, where a bunch of guys go. And then he went from there-- I think it was two years at Sierra Canyon and then three years at Arizona. But yeah, first, 2017 in Johannesburg.

- What were your first impressions or always the organization's first impressions in 2017?

BOBBY WEBSTER: A long, skinny, lanky kid. What I think you asked, why you followed the development, and now five years later, you see the progression. I think even the time at Arizona, from when he first went there to, I think, Defensive Player of the Year this year, I think is just-- you want to continue to see that climb. And everyone knows our development and the amount of resources we want to put into a guy like him. Really, the sky's the limit.

- Do you--

- Bobby, looking back on that--

- Sorry. Do you have a good feel of, like, he can make more of an immediate impact or if this is like a long-term plan, or like do you have a good feel of him yet?

BOBBY WEBSTER: You know, Leslie, historically, the second round picks, it's a different journey. I think there's-- when you come in like Scottie, you come in as a first round pick, there's a bit more expectation and maybe responsibility that you hold. But yeah, I think we're not one to put any boxes around these guys. So if he comes in, and he'll be on Summer League, and we'll see what he can do. So I think we're going in pretty open-minded.

- Bobby, looking back on that Young deal, and the comfort you guys had [INAUDIBLE] 20 to 33, did things kind of shake out the way you expected?

BOBBY WEBSTER: Yeah, I'll have to go back and look where our final one. But I think I told you all a couple of days ago, we needed like 20 or 25, and so he was in that group.

- Bobby, I see reporting that [INAUDIBLE] can you confirm that for us?

BOBBY WEBSTER: I don't know if I'm allowed to confirm, but that's probably the coolest story of the night. If you go look who Wayne Embry drafted in, I think, 1986, he just told me, was his dad. So full circle.

- How important was it to get a guy with 7' size, with that kind of size, into to this organization this year?

BOBBY WEBSTER: It's best available, to be honest. I can go-- you guys laugh, but if you ever saw the draft board, you'd know. But obviously, we liked him. We followed him. But he's not number one on the board. So there has to have some order. But yeah, it just so happened that he was there.

- But was that something in general, whether in free agency, or was that-- adding size to this roster something that you guys want to do in some avenue or not?

BOBBY WEBSTER: Yeah, I think it's something-- yeah, we've talked about it in the past, obviously, free agency. I would say, like, we try to look at the draft independently of need, kind of what I talked about, it's just truly the player that we think will fit with us. I think with free agency, you can probably address it more specifically. But I think, historically, everybody's, in the draft, go get the best player. And if there's duplicates or if there's an opening, teams are fungible, and you can make trades and stuff.

- Do you have any reaction from Pascal about the pick? Did you talk to him about it, or talk to him before, or sort of what's the news there?

BOBBY WEBSTER: Yeah, I knew Christian was an option. So I-- either yesterday or today-- Pascal's up here. So obviously, he knows the kid's story. He said he doesn't know him a ton socially, but I think that they had interacted in LA while Christian was out there-- and Pascal trains out there-- either last summer or a prior summer. So I know they have some acquaintance-level relationship.

- Bobby, in the past, intangibles and character has been a big thing for you guys in the draft. Can you talk a little bit about Christian's character? And are there any stories that stick out from the pre-draft process, even ones maybe someone else told you about him?

BOBBY WEBSTER: I mean, I think you just think of the story, right? So I saw some footage they put online-- so I think he's probably 15 or 16 there-- and then to see where he's come not that far later at 22. So I think it's just the hard work, the commitment, the want, and ability to grow.

So all of those things are wrapped up in it. And I think it's shown, obviously, when we interviewed him, but then it's shown on the court, too. So I think the culmination was a really incredible year at Arizona that probably even-- he even got better from the beginning of the season to the end of the season. So more of that, which is what we love here.

- Do you want to tell us how high up on your board he was?

BOBBY WEBSTER: I think I said he was in our top 20 or top 25. Whatever our list was that we were comfortable with, at 33, he was there.

- You mentioned with the draft, it's the best player available, and then with free agency, you can be more specific. Do you view Koloko as someone who maybe has addressed that need, and you need someone else going forward, or do you still feel like you have those same [INAUDIBLE]?

BOBBY WEBSTER: We'll still look at the position. I don't think that it precludes us from-- obviously, we had free agency plans prior to this, and so I think those are still the same.

- We were asking Nick about how he's different than the rest of the roster. How do you feel he fits defensively? Do you think he can do some of that switching and that aggressive style that you guys have played?

BOBBY WEBSTER: I think he can do that. I think why we like him is because he's a rim protector and he's-- that part of his game, we think he can work on, and so the lateral stuff. But I think, yeah, he's 7 foot. I'm not sure what his wingspan or standing reach is, but it definitely is-- it is something that we do not have.

I think to the earlier question is when can he contribute, I think that's probably a fair question. We probably won't know until we get to be around him a little bit more. But yeah, I think as far as a 7' rim protector that we don't have, that that's what he is.

- Nick was talking a bit about how he's going to probably spent some time at the 905. Can you just talk a bit to, you know, why that's important to his development.

BOBBY WEBSTER: Oh, huge. I mean, probably other than Scottie, or maybe OG, because he started that first year, I think everyone on our team has been through. And most of it's just the reps, the high-level game reps that he'll get. And I think we'll see pretty soon how much of that he'll need or if he's ready to contribute.

But it's a great option that we have. And knowing that the system is the same-- I think everybody saw, with Dalano and Justin and those guys this year, is it's just an opportunity for them to play, especially if you're not playing meaningful minutes on the NBA team.

- It might just be a coincidence that you guys now have a few guys on the team who kind of picked up basketball a little later in life. Is that something you guys look at, or is it just about the development trajectory and getting better over the years?

BOBBY WEBSTER: Yeah, I'd say it's probably the latter, the trajectory. I think we like to see that curve. But there were other guys that we were considering in the draft that are maybe, to your point, more traditional, started playing at a younger age. But I don't know. There's a lot of guys on our team that played basketball the whole time.

[LAUGHTER]

- What are you expecting, I guess, from Pascal specifically, and then just the rest of your leadership group, bringing in a new player into the roster? What kind of role do you want them to take on as [INAUDIBLE] leader and a mentor?

BOBBY WEBSTER: Yeah, I think anyone coming into a new situation, you want to be embraced. You want to have a warm welcome. So we'll do that. Unfortunately, he can't come up here because of his visa situation. But we'll see him in Vegas. And I think at first is, you know, warm This our family. It's-- I think it's how anyone would want to be welcomed into a new group.

- And with that visa situation, can you just talk a bit about that? And sort of when are you expecting him to be able to visit Toronto?

BOBBY WEBSTER: Yeah, as soon as he signs his contract, he'll get his work permit. So it's not-- it's not a lengthy issue. It's just-- I think when you have a student visa and you leave the country, you can't go back into the US. The same thing happened, I think, when we drafted Pascal and [INAUDIBLE]. We had to do a workout in Buffalo, but as soon as they signed their contract-- which I think July 1 he'll be able to. Well, we'll probably be in Vegas. So I'm not sure when he'll actually come up.

- So just to be clear, did he work out for you? And if so, where?

BOBBY WEBSTER: He was not able to work out for us. We were trying to find a Buffalo workout, like we did, but we couldn't have the dates work out.

- So taking him was based on this knowledge of just seeing him in Arizona or--

BOBBY WEBSTER: We met with him in Chicago at the combine. So we had an in-person interview with him.

- Bobby, have you guys started the process of planning the next 905 [INAUDIBLE]?

BOBBY WEBSTER: Great question. We have. I don't have any news to share. But we're going to start more seriously now that the draft is done, but we kind of have an idea of where we want to go. But yeah, that'll hopefully start more seriously next week.

- So you mentioned you only had a draft combine interview. What stood out in that interview to you?

BOBBY WEBSTER: Seriousness, level of love for the game, wanting to get better. I think I told the other day, if you sit down and have dinner, 30 minutes, you get a pr-- we feel like you get a pretty good sense of who they are. So I think that was it, like, wanted to be here, want to get better, seemed like a good kid, all the background checked out on him.

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