Hornets Draft Workouts: Day 1

Friday, June 5, 2009
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Hornets draft workouts began this morning at the team's practice facility, the Alario Center. Hornets.com interviewed the six players who were invited to work out today. We will be adding transcriptions of the interviews throughout the day. We begin with 2007-08 NCAA national Player of the Year Tyler Hansbrough:

TYLER HANSBROUGH, North Carolina
Q: Your decision to come back to college for your senior year... in hindsight, other than winning a championship, was it because you thought you needed to work on more things to be an NBA player?
A: Not necessarily. I came back to school because I enjoyed college. I enjoyed being around a lot of my friends. But I also felt like I could improve on a lot of different things if I did come back to school, too. But also winning a national championship was big.

Q: Was improving your jump shot the most important thing you had to get better?
A: Well, I always had confidence in my jump shot. If you look at my teams (at North Carolina), there was no real need for me to step out and shoot. I always felt I had the ability to make shots; it’s just when you have (perimeter) guys like Danny Green, Wayne Ellington and Ty Lawson, my role was to play down low.

Q: How will your role change in the NBA?
A: I think I will be more of an outside guy. I will be an energy guy too. I’m not going to change my game; I’m just going to add more to it.

Q: Who else have you worked out for so far?
A: Chicago. And I have about six or seven more workouts to go.

Q: How much have you read people’s assessments of you as a draft prospect?
A: I haven’t read a lot. I know there are a lot of doubts. But people have doubted me my whole career. No one thought I was going to be a good college player when I was in high school, but I ended up being the all-time leading scorer in ACC history. I’ve had some great individual accomplishments, but I’m more happy with the team success. Hopefully if I come to New Orleans and the Hornets, I can bring the same things I brought to North Carolina.

Q: Do the doubters drive you at all?
A: Well, I don’t listen to the doubters, because I doubt they’ve played much basketball. They’re probably just in their basement or something watching (games) and saying these things. I’m just trying to improve my game, and if I do that, I think I will have good results.

Q: What do you know about the Hornets?
A: I know a little bit. They have one of the best players in the league in Chris Paul. Anybody would want to play with that guy, the way he distributes (the ball), plays the game and loves to win.

Q: What kinds of things could you bring to the Hornets?
A: I think I bring a lot of energy, I’m a good defensive player and I could add some scoring. I'd be a power forward who is high energy, can get some rebounds and score.

ALFRED ABOYA, UCLA
Q: What are your thoughts on playing with the Hornets?
A: They have a great team. They have all the pieces together. They have a great point guard in Chris Paul and they have David West. They have a great nucleus, all they need is some players who will bring energy and play hard. Playing hard is contagious and I am that type of guy.

Q: Which NBA player (past or current) is your game similar to?
A: I would say (Dennis) Rodman, just how hard he plays, and currently Kurt Thomas. They both play hard defensively.

Q: What parts of your game are you trying to show scouts during these workouts that they may know about?
A: I think I have made a huge improvement in all aspects of my game. If you followed UCLA basketball last season I have improved my mid-range jumper and playing with my back to the basket on offense. Things that I do consistently are play hard on defense and play hard on every play. Ben Howland, my coach at UCLA, knows how hard I work because he has watched me practice the past four years.

JEFF PENDERGRAPH, Arizona State
Q: What are your thoughts on playing with the Hornets?
A: They are a great organization. I would love to play here. They have a great point guard and a great team. Their style of play fits mine pretty well, running the court, everything is open. Their pick-and-roll play is great and that’s what I did a lot in college. I think it would be an easy transition for me and I would be a great fit.

Q: What parts of your game are you trying to show scouts during these workouts that they may know about?
A: I am just trying to do everything I can do well. A lot of times people see me run the floor well and hustling. I am trying to be vocal too.

Q: Any ties to New Orleans?
A: Just Coach Scott, he’s an Arizona State alumni.

LUKE HARANGODY, Notre Dame
Q: What are your thoughts on playing with the Hornets?
A: It would be a great situation to play for this organization. I have had a chance to watch them a lot this year. It seems like it would be a great team to play for and a great city to play in.

Q: Which NBA player (past or current) is your game similar to?
A: I would say a mix between Matt Bonner (Spurs) or Glen Davis (Celtics).

Q: What parts of your game are you trying to show scouts during these workouts that they may know about?
A: I am just trying to work offensively and defensively and just showing them that I can shoot the ball.

GANI LAWAI, Georgia Tech
Q: What are your thoughts on playing with the Hornets?
A: They are a team that gets up and down. They are led by a great point guard in Chris Paul. I would love to be here. Playing with a gold medalist and a great floor leader, I couldn’t do anything but get better.

Q: Which NBA player (past or current) is your game similar to?
A: I would say Paul Milsap of the Jazz. I am not your prototypical six-feet-11 player, but we both make up for it in our length. Also the way he rebounds and his leadership, I think I bring that same twist and flavor to the hardwood.

Q: What parts of your game are you trying to show scouts during these workouts that they may know about?
A: I am just trying to show them everything I got. I am not trying to come out here and do stuff I am not capable of.

LUKE NEVILL, Utah
Q: What are your thoughts on playing with the Hornets?
A: Chris Paul, what can I say, is an All-Star point guard. He would be a great person to play with since he makes everyone better. I think they are a great team, have a lot of good scoring threats and I would be happy to join the team.

Q: Which NBA player (past or current) is your game similar to?
A: Right now I play slightly like (Pau) Gasol. I want to improve my shooting, but my game is similar to his.

Q: What parts of your game are you trying to show scouts during these workouts that they may know about?
A: I would say shooting-wise. I think I shoot well. I wasn’t able to shoot that much at Utah. I have good hands and good feet and am pretty agile for a guy my size.



North Carolina's Hansbrough at Day 1 of workouts


The Hornets will hold their first draft workout today, June 5, at the Alario Center. Here are today's six workout participants:

Tyler Hansbrough • University of North Carolina • Forward • 6-9, 250 • Poplar Bluff, Mo.
Became the only player in ACC history to become a four-time, first-team All-American, and led the UNC Tar Heels to the 2009 NCAA Championships. Hansbrough finished his career first in the ACC and 12th in NCAA history with 2,872 points. Hansbrough was named the 2008 National Player of the Year, ACC Player of the Year, ACCMale Athlete of the Year, ACC Tournament MVP, and the NCAA East Regional Player of the Year. He was the winner of the 2008-09 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award for men’s basketball and finished the season averaging 20.7 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. Hansbrough was the first player since 1985 and the 14th since 1945 to earn consensus first-team All-America honors three times. He finished with career averages of 20.2 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.

Jeff Pendergraph • Arizona State University • Forward • 6-9, 240 • Etiwanda, Calif.
He finished the season first in the nation in field goal percentage at a clip of 66.0%. Pendergraph hit on 198-of-300 attempts from the floor. That percentage marked the best by a Pac-10 player since Todd MacCulloch of Washington led the nation at 66.2 percent in 1988-99. Pendergraph averaged 14.7 points and 8.4 rebounds during the 2008-09 season in 32.8 minutes per game. He set Sun Devil records for games played (126) and started (120) while his 1,588 career points (12.6 per game) is good for sixth on the school career list, just ahead of Byron Scott's 1,572. Finished the year with a team-high 15 charges and had 16 in 2007-2008. Pendergraph earned B.A. in economics in just 3 ½ years and earned Pac-10 honorable mention honors in 2006-07, third-team all-conference in 2007-08 and first-team honors in 2008-09.

Luke Harangody • University of Notre Dame • Forward • 6-8, 255 • Schererville, Ind.
He finished the season first in the nation in field goal percentage at a clip of 66.0% and was named to the John R. Wooden All-America Team as a junior and sophomore. Harangody earned Second Team All-America honors by the Associated Press and First Team All-Big East as a junior and sophomore. Finished his career ranked eighth all-time in scoring (1,823) and fifth in rebounding (949) at Notre Dame. Harangody owns single season Big East rebounding record with 231 and last season, he led the conference in scoring (23.2 ppg), while ranking second in rebounding (12.0 rpg).

Luke Nevill • Utah • Center • 7-2, 265 • Perth, Australia
Nevill was named Honorable Mention All-America following his senior season, as well as earning Mountain West Conference’s Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honors. Nevill earned the MWC’s Tournament MVP award. For his career, finished as Utah’s all-time blocks leader (205), third in defensive rebounds (672) and fourth in points (1,898). As a senior, Nevill averaged 16.8 points and career-best 9.0 rebounds, leading Utah to a 24-10 record and No. 5 seed in NCAA tournament, as well as a share of regular season conference title and to conference tournament championship.

Gani Lawal • Georgia Tech • Forward • 6-9, 233 • Norcross, Ga.
An early entry candidate for the 2009 draft, Lawal earned Third Team All-ACC Honors as a sophomore. Scored in double-digits 35 times for his career, as he started in 55 of 63 career games. Last season, he led the team in rebounding (9.5 rpg), and was second in scoring (15.1 ppg). Lawal finished second in ACC in rebounding and was second in field goal percentage (55.6%). During the 2008-09 season, Lawal grabbed double-digit rebounds in nine-straight games (Jan. 6 – Feb. 8). Statistically, Lawal was the most improved player in the ACC for the 2008-09 campaign, more than doubling his scoring average (+7.9) and rebounds (+6.0) and nearly doubling his playing time (+12.3) over his freshman year.

Alfred Aboya • UCLA • Forward/Center • 6-9, 245 • Yaounde, Cameroon
Aboya, an All-Pac-10 Conference honorable mention selection, averaged 9.9 points per game for the Bruins last season. He finished the year averaging 6.3 rebounds per game, ranking him ninth in the Pac-10 Conference. Aboya was also named to the Pac-10 All-Defensive Team and to the national All-Defensive Team by FoxSports.com. During the 2007-08 campaign, he was one of only four Bruins to play in all 39 games, including 17 starts, and averaged 2.9 points, 2.2 rebounds and shot 50.5% from the field.