Norvel Pelle Goes No. 6 in D-League Draft, Dreams of NBA | Zagsblog
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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Monday / May 29.
  • Norvel Pelle Goes No. 6 in D-League Draft, Dreams of NBA

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    There is no game film on Norvel Pelle.

    He has never played in an NBA game.

    Never played in a professional game of any kind.

    Never played in a college contest, either.

    Yet the 6-foot-11, 210-pound Pelle was the No. 1-ranked high school center in the Class of 2011, and considered a future pro prospect.

    He tried on several occasions to go to college — first committing to Steve Lavin and St. John’s and then to Tim Cluess and Iona — before declaring for the NBA Draft after he was deemed academically ineligible.

    As recently as this summer, NBA executives like Mitch Kupchak and Jerry West watched Pelle work out at the Chicago Pre-Draft Camp to see what the kid had.

    On Friday night, Pelle was chosen No. 6 in the NBA D-League Draft by the Delaware 87ers, the 76ers D-League affiliate, where he will team up with former Seton Hall pledge Aquille Carr, former St. John’s and Rider guard Nurideen Lindsey, and former Rutgers forward JR Inman.

    “Just to fulfill my ultimate goal of going to the NBA, I ultimately needed some game film so I thought it would be best if I just entered my name into the D-League,” Pelle told Friday night.

    A Compton, Calif., native who is currently staying and training in Queens, N.Y., Pelle said he considered playing overseas but opted to stay in the U.S.

    “I did but I felt being closer to home and the exposure would be much better,” he said.

    Pelle was initially part of Lavin’s blockbuster 2011 recruiting class that also included Moe Harkless of the Orlando Magic, reigning Big East Rookie of the Year JaKarr Sampson (now a sophomore), Amir Garrett and D’Angelo Harrison. 

    Pelle, Sampson and Garrett were declared ineligible by the NCAA in September 2011. Sampson ended up at St. John’s a year later after spending a year at Brewster (N.H.) Academy, while Garrett played the second semester there last season before transferring.

    Then in August 2012 Pelle committed to Iona, but never made it to campus.

    “It was a little frustrating but then again I had to overcome that frustration and just move on,” Pelle said.

    He said the hardest part was “just knowing that I wasn’t going to be able to experience the whole college life, the whole experience of being able to go to college.”

    “But then again everything happens for a reason,” he added. “I don’t regret anything that happened. I’m more blessed than ever.”

    Now his goal is to get some game film and try to make a case for a spot in the NBA one day.

    “Yes, sir,” he said. “Just that I’m a well-rounded player in my game and I’m capable of playing in the NBA and also that I’m mature enough to play in the NBA.”



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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.