Hornets draft Noah Vonleh, acquire P.J. Hairston & unveil new court all in one day


    CHARLOTTE (HORNETS) — The Charlotte Hornets tonight selected forward Noah Vonleh with the ninth overall pick in the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft.

    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 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.

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    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.


    Click the play video icon to see the new court in Charlotte…

    CHARLOTTE (HORNETS) — June 26, 2014 – The Charlotte Hornets today unveiled the team’s new playing court for Time Warner Cable Arena. The court, which was revealed online on hornets.com and across all the team’s social media platforms this morning at 10 a.m., includes a pair of Novant Health logos in front of each bench as part of an enhanced partnership between the two organizations. This is the first time the franchise has had a corporate partner represented on its court.

    The floor, which features the team’s primary logo at center court, has a cell pattern stained in the wood and includes a teal border and purple free-throw lanes. Both baselines have the words “Charlotte Hornets” in the team’s font. The design includes a pair of Buzz City logos inside the three-point line on either end in a show of civic pride, as well as the team’s Crown CH logo at center court on the apron. The Time Warner Cable Arena logo appears twice on the court as it has in the past.

    “We are very excited to reveal the design of our playing floor to our fans,” said Hornets Sports & Entertainment President & COO Fred Whitfield. “We believe the look represents our identity, from the cell pattern on the wood, to the Buzz City logos, to having the full ‘Charlotte Hornets’ on the baselines. We are also pleased to add the logo of our great partner Novant Health as they continue to find ways to make healthcare remarkable.”

    With the addition of the Novant Health logos in front of the benches, the Hornets become the eighth NBA team to have partner logos on the court apron. Novant Health is the Hornets’ official healthcare provider, and the two organizations also partner on initiatives including the Novant Health Community Care Cruiser and the annual My Hero Gala.

    “As the official healthcare provider for the team, Novant Health is proud to have our brand on this new court to further connect our two organizations,” said Novant Health Executive Vice President & Chief Consumer Officer Jesse Cureton. “We’re as excited as the rest of the community that the Charlotte Hornets are back.”

    The Hornets’ wood playing surface is constructed from northern hard maple and was manufactured by Cincinnati-based Robbins Sports Surfaces. The floor is made up of more than 200 sectional panels, each of which are 4 feet by 8 feet and weigh approximately 175 pounds. It features a revolutionary locking system designed to speed up arena changeovers and provide a tight, monolithic appearance. The floor is designed to enhance the safety, comfort and performance of the players as it will absorb about 60% of a player’s impact energy. The intent is to provide a surface that allows for exciting play while at the same time reducing wear and tear on the players’ bodies.

    As with the team’s overall brand identity and uniforms, the court was designed in collaboration with senior executives within the Hornets organization; Jordan Brand, a division of Nike; and the NBA’s Global Merchandising Group. Both Jordan Brand and Nike have a long history of working with professional teams and universities in developing brand identities and utilize some of the world’s most highly recognized designers.

    Click the play video icon to see the new court in Charlotte…


    CHARLOTTTE (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, Rick Bonnell) — Charlotte Hornets coach Steve Clifford spoke often during the pre-draft process about wanting his roster to include more size.

    Apparently that desire won out over the need for better perimeter shooting when the Hornets chose Indiana power forward Noah Vonleh ninth in the NBA draft Thursday night.

    In doing so, the Hornets passed over Creighton small forward Doug McDermott, who shot 45 percent from 3-point range in four college seasons.

    Then the Hornets used the 24th pick on Connecticut point guard Shabazz Napier, whose rights were immediately traded to the Miami Heat. Reportedly, the Heat was sending the 26th pick, the 55th pick and a future second-rounder to the Hornets.

    Via that 26th pick the Hornets will end up with former North Carolina shooting guard P.J. Hairston, who spent most of last winter playing in the NBA Development League after the NCAA ruled him ineligible.

    Hairston, 6-foot-5 and 228 pounds, averaged 21.8 points for the Texas Legends, shooting 45 percent overall and 36 percent from the NBA 3-point line. Hairston is expected to challenge incumbent starter Gerald Henderson for minutes.

    Vonleh was projected in many mock drafts to go as high as fourth and no lower than seventh. He slipped past eighth when the Sacramento Kings selected Michigan shooting guard Nik Stauskas.

    Vonleh, 18, played just one college season, but he is massive. At 6-foot-10 and 240 pounds, he was measured as having a 7-foot-5 wingspan. He averaged 11.3 points and nine rebounds last season.

    He shot 52 percent from the field and 49 percent from the college 3-point line. That ability to shoot from the perimeter could make him a good complement to Hornets center Al Jefferson in the low post.

    This is the second draft in a row where the Hornets used a lottery pick on an Indiana big man. Last June they selected 7-footer Cody Zeller fourth overall.

    Zeller averaged six points and 4.3 rebounds last season, playing behind starter Josh McRoberts. He improved markedly over the last two months of the season and was named second-team all-rookie.

    Drafting Vonleh could offer some insurance against the possibility of losing McRoberts, who chose to opt out of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent next month.

    Hornets general manager Rich Cho has said the team wants to re-sign McRoberts, and McRoberts indicated at the end of the season he would like to keep playing in Charlotte. However money will probably be a big factor in where he signs.

    Vonleh will not turn 19 until August. He reclassified his high school recruiting class up a year, entering college early. The Bobcats/Hornets have made a habit of drafting very young players; small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and center Bismack Biyombo were the youngest players in their respective draft classes.

    Clifford often spoke over the past few weeks about the need to get bigger. He noted how much size the San Antonio Spurs assembled as a huge factor in them winning the championship against the Miami Heat this month.

    “With San Antonio, one of the reasons they got back to the top is they knew they needed more size along the perimeter. So they went out and got (6-7 small forward) Kawhi Leonard,” Clifford said recently.

    “At the end of the day, (the NBA) is still a match-up league. It’s different from college, which is more five-man basketball. In the playoffs, you’re going to go at matchups. You’ve got to have guys (big enough to) get their own shots and guys to make it hard on those guys.”