Michael Jordan on Vonleh: “We never thought we’d have an opportunity to get him”

  • 10/28/2014 9:36 am in

After a one-year stop in Bloomington, Noah Vonleh is set to begin his NBA career as a Charlotte Hornet on Wednesday night against Milwaukee.

Like Cody Zeller, another former IU player drafted by Charlotte, Vonleh enters a unique situation as a rookie selected high in the NBA draft. Most lottery picks are thrown into the mix immediately out of necessity, but Vonleh will be brought along slowly on a team that once again has playoff aspirations.

“I felt very fortunate (to go to Charlotte),” Zeller told Inside the Hall over the summer. “I learned a lot. We have a good group of veteran guys and making it to the playoffs as a rookie was a big opportunity.”

The 6-foot-10 Vonleh will join Zeller in Charlotte’s frontcourt with hopes of helping the franchise get back to the playoffs. His pro career, however, got off to a slow start as he missed time in the preseason following surgery to repair a sports hernia that he suffered over the summer.

He did return recently to appear in one preseason game and scored four points and grabbed four rebounds in 19 minutes.

“He’s got a lot of talent. He’s eager and athletic,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford told The Charlotte Observer after his preseason debut. “There was a lot of good, a lot of bad (in his first game). Noah was the one guy who could not afford to miss September and October.”

While Vonleh is not expected to be in Charlotte’s rotation to begin the season, Hornets owner and chairman Michael Jordan said earlier this week that drafting Vonleh at No. 9 in June’s draft was an opportunity he didn’t believe he would have.

“Vonleh is a big body. A young, 19-year old kid. We never thought we’d have an opportunity to get him,” Jordan said. “He kind of fell to us. He has talent that could exceed what everybody’s expectations may be. Now, with that comes a lot of work. And the kid has a good head on his shoulders, he loves to work and he picked up some weight and strength this summer.

“The game is going to help him develop. Once he sees how fast the game is, the talent pool, things of that nature, he’s going to have his ups and downs. Same thing Cody (Zeller) went through. And there will be stretches where he’s going to get it. He’s going to provide some signs of what can happen for us in the long run. “

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  • hoosierfan2336

    Will be fun to watch him grow in this league. Now that Charlotte has some momentum and a solid team, it will be great for vonleh since he can slowly absorb everything at his own pace rather than being thrown in the deep end and blow his expectations.

  • Miamihoosier

    Charlotte is looking like a mini OKC in the east..just stck piling talent. ..they need a dynamic guard, and theyll be rolling

  • PV Mike

    “and with the 11th pick in the NBA 2015 draft, the Charlotte Hornets pick Kevin (Yogi) Ferrell from Indiana University”

  • ForeverIU

    Lol, I was gonna say that! The Hoosier Hornets.

  • Max

    Rather see him as a top-10 pick in the 2016 draft!

  • SilentBob

    I highly doubt the Hornets pick that high this year, but I highly doubt Yogi goes that high in any draft. It would be pretty awesome to see 3 Hoosiers on the same team, but if I was running the Hornets I’d be strongly looking at packaging one of our Indiana boys with a draft pick maybe to the Celtics for a Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green. The Hornets are just a piece or 2 away from being able to highly compete right now in a weak Eastern Conference. I wouldn’t try to find that piece with a rookie especially with the abundance of youth already on the team.

  • SilentBob

    That Steve Clifford guy is a heck of a coach. He will make a heck of a player out of Noah. Always love to hear Michael speak. Noah kind of reminds me of 6 ft 10 MJ in a way. Not in playing style obviously, but they both had ridiculous measurables coming out, both play with a huge chip on their shoulder, and a second to none work ethic.

    I’m excited to see how Noah develops, although it seemed like for a bit he was regretting his decision to leave. I thought he should have stayed another year, not for the teams sake, but I think he really could have developed much better around the guards we will have this year and might have put himself in a position to go number one overall in the draft. Oh well I got faith in the young man.

  • Crimson&CremeFraiche

    That’s what I always thought. If he stays one more year, he is fighting for the number one pick and we are a top-10 team.

  • PV Mike

    My post was made with my tongue solidly placed in my cheek.

  • SilentBob

    Haha I figured as much but I used it as a platform to express my opinion that I’m not expecting both of the Indiana boys already there to be there for a long time. Although it would be awesome. I’m really hoping Noah gets traded to my Celtics lol. I was pretty heated when we passed on him lol

  • Hoosier Taxidermist

    And with an unprecedented move the Charlotte Hornets trade Noah Vonleh to the Orlando Magic for Victor Oladipo. That would be fun to watch.

  • FinEndNow

    Just stick to your bread and butter(rebounding) and let everything else come to you. If you have an open 18 footer then shoot it. Last year Zeller seemed fairly hesitant to start the season but after the All-Star break he broke out a bit. I expect something like that from Noah. Missing the preseason really hurt him though.

  • SilentBob

    Oh yea another year and he is in the running with Okafor for the top pick. Playing for a better team alone does wonders for your draft stock. I, like a lot of IU fans, spent a many of hours last season daydreaming about a Noah post up then a kick out to Blackmon for three. It would have been like a smaller college version of Shaq and Kobe’s Lakers.

    As much as I hate to admit it, no matter how he does at UK, that’s why Trey Lyles’ decommittment hurt us so much. His skill set would have flowed beautifully with this team. He and Noah are very similar players. Noah being the better more physical athlete, and Trey having the more refined offensive skill set. If we had either of those players this year we would easily be competing for a Big 10 title IMO

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  • Jordan

    @Insidethehall With the ncaa’s decision looming over UNC is there a possibility we could be back in the running for Theo Pinson if players did decide to depart from the university?

  • E Foy McNaughton

    It won’t surprise me if the UNC & Syacuse programs get rocked by the NCAA for multi year post season bans. Should I pretend to shed a tear?

  • mark

    Yes, always better to play in real games than to play only in practice. But I had the feeling he and his family were very concerned about getting injured …. which may be justified to some extent considering what happened to Mitch McGarry. But as far as work ethic and hatred for losing, I think Jordan was in a class by himself. No doubt NV has a great work ethic, but he’s not as mentally tough and strong-willed as MJ … no one is, really, except maybe Larry Bird …

  • SilentBob

    This is true. However if there is one thing Crean has shown a knack for it’s getting kids who work harder than everyone else. I think it may harder to judge a kid like Noah’s competitive spirit because he is quiet by nature and doesn’t fill up his twitter page like many players today. But you’re right there is only one Jordan.

  • cooper

    Will be interesting to see his career arc. Could see it go either way really. Could be a nice rotation/ starter or a bust.

  • Troll394124

    It WILL surprise me if the NCAA gives either team more than a tongue-lashing; Neither coach wears blue denim shirts, to my knowledge.

  • Lucas Hill

    he is from my home town Haverhill,Massachusetts