Melvin Ejim Addresses Tweener Label, Khem Birch Impacting Quebec Hoops
Khem Birch finished his Runnin’ Rebel career two blocks shy of the UNLV all-time career mark of 194…it took only two seasons in Las Vegas.
Birch hopes to carry this skill (shot blocking) with him to the NBA; a 6’9 physical specimen, possessing a 7’1 wing span and impressive overall athleticism.
He ranked #2 in the NCAA in shot blocking, behind fellow Canadian Jordan Bachynski (who worked out for Toronto last week).
Yesterday, the Montreal, Quebec product was in Toronto for a pre-draft work out where he said that he would bring defense and energy into the NBA.
“That’s the type of player I am, that’s why I left, that’s how I proved myself in college,” said Birch.
Prior to Toronto, Birch had worked out with the Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers.
Dan Tolzman, Raptors Director of Scouting, spoke on Birch’s abilities.
“He’s a high level athlete and his measurements at the combine were all good for a four-man in the NBA.”
“The amount of ground he can cover with his athleticism and nack for shot blocking absolutely translates. I don’t think for him there is any concern physically,” explained Tolzman.
Tolzman continued to say that Birch’s defensive abilities are proven, which will allow him to be an impact player in the NBA.
The last Quebec player to be drafted was Kris Joseph in 2012 (2nd round, 51 overall, Boston Celtics)
Prior to that, Samuel Dalembert in 2001 (1st round, 26th overall, Philadelphia).
Joel Anthony, also from Montreal, went undrafted, but had a similar path, building his repuation as a shot blocker at UNLV.
Birch said that he is seeing young prospects from his hometown following his journey as the game thrives in QC.
“I’ve made a really big impact in Montreal basketball and I’m proud…hopefully they will keep it up.”
“Right now its Hockey with the Canadiens making the Eastern Conference semi’s (NHL). Watch in the future it’s basketball…I can see it, it’s coming up.”
Melvin Ejim – Addressing the Tweener Label
The Brampton, Ontario native was happy to be back in town working out for the Raptors…but far from content.
“It’s not official yet, so I don’t think I’ll be satisified until I have a real one,” referring to his Raptors practice jersey.
The topic at hand with fellow media was addressing the “tweener” label, being 6’6 and undersized at the power forward postiion, while lacking the full skill set to be considered a true small forward.
Ejim summed it up very well.
“It’s not about being a tweener, it’s about being a player,” he said.
“If you’re someone that can go out and play basketball on different levels and different positions, you’re valuable, you’re a good player.”
And that is something that he has proven to do at Iowa State, while make progress in his game by the year.
It’s always an interesting basketball question; how will a guy like Melvin Ejim translate at the next level and what type of impact will he have?
The truth is…for Ejim you have to dig deeper to learn more than what is on the surface. You have to learn about his character, his work ethic.
In addition, the title “BIG 12 Player of the Year” cannot be underestimated, earning this recognition in a basketball league filled with freak athletes, size and speed.
Raptors Director of Scouting, Dan Tolzman on Ejim:
His niche, in my opinion will be as a defensive player…he’s a strong defender. The level of intensity that he plays with bodes well for guys that focus on defense because when they give their all, they impact the game somehow even if the shot is not there.
Ejim has already had work outs with Utah, Philadelphia, and Charlotte, and will have 12 or 13 total NBA work outs leading up to the draft on June 26.