Hornets Select Noah Vonleh

June 26, 2014 – The Charlotte Hornets tonight selected forward Noah Vonleh with the ninth overall pick in the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft. The team also acquired the rights to guards P.J. Hairston (26th overall pick) and Semaj Christon (55th overall pick), along a 2019 second-round draft pick and with cash considerations, from the Miami Heat in exchange for the rights to guard Shabazz Napier (24th overall pick). The Hornets then traded the rights to Christon to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for cash considerations.

An early entry candidate, the 6-10 Vonleh was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year and Third Team All-Big Ten in 2013-14 at Indiana University after averaging 11.3 points, a Big Ten-high 9.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 26.5 minutes per game. The team’s leader in rebounding and blocks, Vonleh shot .523 from the field (113-216), .485 from beyond the three-point line (16-33) and .716 from the free-throw line (96-134). In 30 games played, he scored in double figures 19 times and grabbed double-figure rebounds on 13 occasions, tallying 10 double-doubles. In addition to leading the conference in rebounding, he ranked third in the Big Ten in field goal percentage and eighth in blocks.

Vonleh, who was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week seven times during the season, participated in the McDonald’s All-America game, the Jordan Brand Classic and for the U.S. team at the Nike Hoop Summit as a high school senior in 2012-13.

The 6-6 Hairston becomes the first NBA D-League player to be selected in the first round of the NBA Draft. He was named to the D-League All-Rookie Second Team in 2013-14 as a member of the Texas Legends. Hairston averaged 21.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 32.3 minutes, while shooting .453 from the field (183-404), .358 from beyond the three-point line (73-204) and .870 from the free-throw line (127-146). A participant in the 2014 Boost Mobile NBA D-League Three-Point Contest during NBA All-Star Weekend, Hairston posted eight games of 29 points or more, including a pair of 40-point outings.

Hairston played two seasons at the University of North Carolina, averaging 10.0 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.0 assist in 71 career games from 2011-13. As a sophomore in 2012-13, he led the Tar Heels in scoring, averaging 14.6 points, and posted the second-best single-season three-point field goal total in school history (89). Hairston was also selected First Team All-ACC Tournament as a sophomore.

In addition, the Hornets selected Dwight Powell with the 45th overall pick. The Hornets are currently in discussions to trade the rights to that pick and will not be able to consummate any potential trade until after the moratorium period ends July 10. Therefore the team will have no comment on this pick until finishing those trade discussions.

Noah Vonleh Conference Call Transcript

(On his reaction to being selected by the Hornets)
“I was a little surprised because I didn’t work out for the Hornets so it was a little bit of a shock, but I’m happy and excited that they saw something in me.”

(On Charlotte)
“I know they are an up-and-coming organization in the NBA. They’ve got young guys like Kemba Walker, Cody Zeller, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Al Jefferson also, and a few other young guys. They’re an up-and-coming organization in the league. I know Michael Jordan is the head of everything over there. It’ll be nice to have him as a boss.”

(On the skills he can bring)
“I think rebounding right away. That is something that will definitely translate. I think I’m versatile – I can be a stretch forward, make jumpers, hit the threes. I play pretty well in the pick-and-roll. I can play pretty hard and do whatever it takes to win.”

(On not working out for the Hornets)
“My agent told me that the Hornets were interested in me but they didn’t think I was going to fall to nine. I think they were surprised but it all worked out pretty well.”

(On his relationship with Cody Zeller)
“I talked to him a bit every now and then. He helped me with the draft process so it was good to have him in my corner. He texted me, I saw his name pop up on my screen but my phone has been blowing up so I haven’t gotten the chance to text him back yet.”

(On his passing and ball-handling abilities)
“Growing up I was real versatile, I was playing like a point forward throughout high school. I didn’t get to do too much of that in college, which was a little bit of an adjustment. But that’s something I have always been able to do, handle the ball. I definitely want to be able to do that at the next level. In high school, I played point forward, taking the ball to the rim, pushing it even further down, so that’s something I can definitely do.”

(On reclassifying in order to go to college early)
“I re-classed in 2014 so I could jump back up to my original class and go to college early.”

(On playing for Tom Crean at Indiana)
“I think he used me pretty good to what he thought would help the team, where he thought I’d be best and help the team win. I adjusted pretty well to where he put me. I wouldn’t say it worked out because we didn’t make any tournaments, but he put me where he thought was best for the team.”

(On what fans can expect from him)
“Hard work and play. I’ve got a great work ethic and I will play hard from day one and try to make my way into the rotation. I bring a lot of energy to the floor.”

(On Al Jefferson)
“I’ve talked to Al Jefferson a couple times. He’s in the same agency I’m in so I’ve gotten to talk to him a few times, so it’ll definitely be great to play alongside him and learn some things about the league, how to go about myself in games and things like that. I think it’ll be pretty great to play on the court with Al.”