Over the last few days, it appears as though Syracuse guard Dion Waiters has crept up on some scouts, so much so that he might be slotted right around where the Raptors are likely to pick (the 8/9 range). While Waiters wasn’t a name a lot of Raptors fans were following before, perhaps it’s time they begin to take notice of the 20-year-old.

The recent Waiters buzz comes to us via ESPN Insider Chad Ford. On Thursday, Ford wrote that “A number of NBA scouts who I really respect have been telling me for more than a month that the real sleeper in this draft is Syracuse sophomore Dion Waiters.”

That praise is nothing compared to what comes next. Ford quotes a General Manager as saying that Waiters is the only other potential superstar in the 2012 draft class, outside of Anthony Davis. The same GM is also quoted as saying “There’s some Dwyane Wade in him.”

Comparisons are often pointless, but wow.

Waiters averaged 12.6 points (on 47.6 per cent shooting) in just over 24 minutes per game in his sophomore season at Syracuse, but he has the potential to be an offensive machine because of his ability to get to the basket.

Where things get dicey is on the other side of the ball, where Waiters played himself into Jim Boeheim’s dog house with an inconsistent defensive effort. That lack of of a defensive mindset obviously wouldn’t be welcomed or tolerated by Dwane Casey, but Waiters told Ford in an interview (which you can find in the link above) that he wants to show people he can, indeed, play D.

If he shows signs of becoming the offensive weapon he’s capable of and shows scouts and coaches that he’ll be more committed on the defensive end, then perhaps Waiters will be a serious option for the Raptors, barring Toronto moving into the top-three.

Ford now has Waiters all the way up to No. 8 on his Top-100 list, and second among guards (ahead of Jeremy Lamb) only to Florida’s Bradley Beal. In his updated Lottery Mock Draft, Ford has Waiters going to the Raptors at No. 8. Most others have Waiters as a mid to late first round guy, for now.

Obviously, much of this speculation is based on the assumption that the Raptors end up with the No. 8 selection in the draft, which we hope changes for the better on Wednesday night.

Another guy to keep your eye on, though I’m sure you already were, is Perry Jones III. The Baylor star has seen his stock fall over the last two years with inconsistent and often uninspired college performances, but in terms of pure talent mixed with size/length, you could argue that Jones has as high a ceiling as anyone in this class not named Davis.

And according to a Ford tweet on Thursday night, PJIII was enjoying a solid workout:

I’ll admit that Jones’ motor, or perceived lack of a motor, concerns me, but it’s rare to find a near seven-footer with his skillset (think Lamar Odom) in the 8-to-10 range, so I wouldn’t exactly be disappointed with him landing in Toronto.

We’ll have a look at all of the players Raptors fans should be following ahead of Wednesday’s Draft Lottery early next week.

This off-season of anticipation is getting closer…