Noah Vonleh Interview: Vonleh Discusses Looking Up To Iverson and Tracy McGrady, Playing at Indiana, Expanding His Game & Goals for Next Season
Jeffrey Kee: How'd you first start playing basketball?
Noah Vonleh: I started playing when I was about 5 or 6 years old. I remember going to the park with my older cousin. I used to look up to him like an older brother. He played basketball and I just wanted to follow in his footsteps.
Kee: You're a big man, but in your three years in the NBA you've shown off some guard skills as well. Growing up, you did you pattern your game after?
Vonleh: As a kid, I looked up to Allen Iverson and Tracy McGrady. Those were the guys I always tried to emulate. In high school, I was always working on my ball handing because I wanted to have handles like Iverson.
Kee: Talk about your high school career a little bit. Your 2013 high school class was pretty deep at the forward position. Where would you rank yourself among that group?
Vonleh: It's hard to say because we're still young in our careers. We definitely had a really good class. In high school, I had a really intense matchup with Andrew Wiggins at the Springfield Hall of Fame Tournament. I played against guys like Julius Randle, Jabari Parker and Aaron Gordon at the Nike Hoops Summit. Then I played with and against those guys in the McDonald's All American Game, which I was very blessed to be a part of. Being recognized as one of the top high school players in the nation was an amazing feeling. But yeah, there were a lot of talented guys in that class. A lot of dudes that are going to be stars in the league one day.
Kee: What went into your decision to play your college ball at Indiana?
Vonleh: The Indiana coaching staff recruited me really hard, which showed me that they really wanted me there. Plus, basketball is huge in Indiana. It's a way of life over there and since I love basketball so much, I wanted to be in an environment with people who shared that same passion for the game.
I only stayed one season, but I had a really great time at Indiana. After my freshman year, I felt like I was ready for the NBA. I was projected to be a lottery pick, so leaving early was definitely the smart decision to make.
Kee: In 2014, you were drafted 9th overall by the Hornets. What do you remember most from playing in Charlotte?
Vonleh: Well, I was only there for a year. It went by really quickly. I think I only played 25 games as a rookie because I got injured, but it was still a great learning experience. I still talk to a couple of guys from that team like Kemba Walker and Marvin Williams. It was short lived, but a lot of fun.
Kee: You mentioned earlier that ball handing is something you've worked on since high school. Do you plan on showing that off a little more next season?
Vonleh: I want to, but you know how the NBA goes; sometimes you're forced to play a certain role, which limits the type of skills you can put on display. That's why you haven't really seen me show off my ball handing skills since I've been in the league. Hopefully, at some point in my career I'll get to use that part of my game, but until then, I just have to make sure I play my role to the best of my abilities.
Kee: What's your main focus going into your fourth season?
Vonleh: My main goal is to try and expand my game as much as possible. I want to be a valuable player in this league and will continue putting in the work to become one.