Hornets add more power to developing roster, draft Duke Center Vernon Carey Jr.
The Charlotte Hornets made plenty of noise in Wednesday’s NBA Draft with the third overall pick of LaMelo Ball, but they also came away with three more players, including the selection of Duke center Vernon Carey Jr. in the second round with the 32nd overall pick.
Carey was the 2019 ACC Freshman of the Year and was seen as a borderline first-round pick by many draft experts, leaving the possibility of being a potential steal for the Hornets, who desperately need size on their roster.
“I was at a Carolina game and they were playing Duke, so that’s where I saw him,” general manager Mitch Kupchak said of scouting Carey. “His skill level, his size, and he has great hands.”
In his lone season at Duke, Carey averaged 17.8 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks to be named to the All-ACC first-team.
Due to his prototypical skillset as a big man that isn’t used as often in today’s NBA, Carey fell to Charlotte in the second round, but believes his came can improve as a player that can move around the floor.
“I feel like right now guys like Brook Lopez, him being able to stretch the floor, I feel like that's something I could come in and do,” Carey said. “ I mean, growing up, I watched Dirk a lot, Dirk Nowitzki. I watched those type of guys and guys like Anthony Davis right now and Bam (Adebayo), just try to take little parts from their game really.”
Kupchak and head coach James Borrego both said after the draft that there will still be aspects to learn about the former Blue Devil and how he can fit in with the team, but Kupchak already sees the potential, especially after he saw how Carey lost weight after being out of shape this summer.
“I thought last year he was not in great shape and heavy, and he’s lost between 30 and 40lbs,” Kupchak said. “So, he looks pretty good. Based on the exposure that we got to him, which is really just video.
“As you know he was a great high school prospect, great size. And he can really shoot the ball too, so his skill level is very very high.”
Carey said the weight loss came from just adjusting his diet and hiring a chef, which should help him at the NBA level.
“Just me being more mobile,” Carey said. “I feel like those are the two main things, just me being in better shape and just me being more mobile. That's something I definitely feel like with me dropping 30 pounds, that's definitely a positive from that.”
The Hornets already have two versatile power forwards in their last two lottery picks, Miles Bridges and P.J. Washington, but with Carey now in the mix, he’ll do everything he can to learn and improve his game.
“I know I'm going to just follow Miles and P.J. and those type of guys and just soak up all the knowledge I can because they already went through it,” Carey said. “For me personally, I'm definitely just going to be all ears.”