Hornets.com 1-on-1: Washington's Hilton Armstrong
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com
February 1, 2011
Prior to Tuesdays game against the Washington Wizards, Hornets.com caught up with former New Orleans reserve center Hilton Armstrong. The fifth-year NBA veteran spent the first 3 1/2 seasons of his career with the Hornets, after being picked No. 12 overall in the 2006 NBA Draft.
In his first season as a member of the Wizards, Armstrong has received sporadic playing time. Although he made a pair of starts at center for Washington early in the season, lately hes been in and out of the mix. During January, for example, he appeared in eight of the teams 16 games.
Hornets.com: There was an excellent recent SI.com piece that discussed your journey in the NBA and the role of lesser-known players in the league. At one point in the article you were quoted saying you were shocked to be picked 12th by the Hornets in 2006. What were some of the specific things that made you so surprised to be taken in the lottery?
Armstrong: It was because my (senior) year at (Connecticut), I just didnt think I did anything special compared to other guys in college. Obviously players like (college teammate) Rudy (Gay) got drafted before me, but my numbers in college werent anything spectacular or great. I wasnt a scorer. I did block shots in college, but that was about it. I really didnt think at the time that the NBA thought that blocking a couple shots (per game) in college was a lot.
Hornets.com: But you were Big East Defensive Player of the Year, right?
Armstrong: Yeah, but it still definitely surprised me. The three years prior, I really didnt play too much. I just had one good year, but it still wasnt like I was a (college) star or anything. (Getting drafted high) just completely caught me off guard. But I definitely cant complain, obviously.
Hornets.com: Since leaving New Orleans, youve been in Sacramento, Houston and now Washington. Whats been the toughest part of all of the moves?
Armstrong: Traveling without my family. My fianc stayed here in New Orleans after I got traded. Then over the summer, I was in San Francisco, Atlanta, New York and Connecticut (working out, trying to get signed and preparing for 2010-11). I only saw my fiance and my daughter for about two weeks out of the whole summer. It was very tough. My daughter is so young (2) that I felt like I was missing out on a lot. But I felt like I was doing what I had to do to support the family. You have to make sacrifices sometimes.
Hornets.com: Now that youre no longer in the same locker room as them, I wanted to ask a few questions about some of your former Hornets teammates. Whats one thing you could tell us about Chris Paul that we might not know?
Armstrong: When it comes to the game, he has a killer instinct. He wants to win, no matter what. But off the court, or in the locker room, or after the game, hes funny. Hes a funny guy. He always has a joke for you. Hes very laidback and a great guy.
Hornets.com: David West?
Armstrong: Hes very private. Hes not flashy at all. He just wants he and his family to be happy. He does things in his own way. Hes also a very funny guy. He likes comedy. Hell say one or two things every once in a while. He is kind of subtle about (humor).
He is the type of guy who doesnt care if he always has people around him. As long as he does what he needs to, to provide for his family, hes fine.
Hornets.com: Your former UConn teammate Emeka Okafor?
Armstrong: Emeka is one of the nicest guys Ive ever met. Hes disciplined, strong-minded and is a true gentleman.
Hornets.com: What do you miss most about playing in New Orleans?
Armstrong: My teammates, guys like Mo Pete, Melvin Ely, Julian (Wright), D West and CP. It was like a family. I was with them for so long. It was a good time in my life, getting to know them. Even the coaching staff, such as Byron Scott and Charlie Parker. I really got along well with everybody I came across, including the ballboys. [smiles]
Hornets.com: Where does the experience of being on the 2007-08 team that won the Southwest Division title rank for you in terms of basketball memories?
Armstrong: It was wonderful. Winning made the city happy. Everything around the team felt good. For me personally, thats probably my second (best memory). The first was in college when we (UConn) won the Maui Invitational. That was my breakout as a player. That was the first time I was a real significant piece of a team, and we won the tournament.
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