Pelle hungry for a shot at the NBA

Norvel Pelle is humbled, hungry and ready for an opportunity to show the NBA what he can do.

Pelle, a former St. John’s recruit, spent last season in the D-League and, after a strong late-season push, has his sights set on the NBA draft next week.

“The D-League route helped -- matured me, humbled me and made me a better person,” Pelle said earlier this month at B.J. Bass’ prospect showcase in Brooklyn. “I just want to continue to develop, continue to get stronger and learn the game on and off the court.”

Pelle was one of the highest-rated prospects coming out of high school in 2011. He committed to play to St. John’s and then Iona but there were academic issues that prevented him from taking the court.

So he spent last season in the D-League with the Delaware 87ers, playing sparingly early on. But Pelle came on late in the season once he received significant minutes. Pelle averaged just 5.5 points on 51 percent shooting in 13 minutes per game on the season. But his per 36 stats were impressive -- 15.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per 36 minutes -- an indication that he can produce if given the playing time.

At 6-foot-10 and 210 pounds (with a 7-3 wingspan), Pelle is sure to draw attention from NBA front offices. They will have to project his potential as a rebounder, shot-blocker and jump-shooter.

“He’s a kid who has a lot of talent with his size and his skill set, he’s a kid who has the potential, and is still learning but he’s got to realize that when you come into the D-league or professional [league] you’re playing against men,” said scout Ryan Blake.

Pelle, who has worked out in front of several teams, including the 76ers and Raptors, has added 15 pounds recently. He knows that he has to continue to build his frame to compete in the NBA. That shouldn't be a problem. Pelle knows that his experience -- going from a highly-touted prep player to spending a year in the D-League -- will help motivate him in the coming days, weeks and months.

“It definitely humbled me to make me realize that regardless of the talent level, you still have to be hungry to go get it,” Pelle said of his experience in the D-League. “So being on the back burner is actually a good thing for me because it humbles me now and makes me want to work even harder ... I’ve got mouths to feed. I’ve got to take care of my mother and family. So it’s definitely making me more hungry to go get it.”