Thanks to class of 2011 power forward Norvel Pelle (St. John’s) for doing the interview with us. He’s a 6’9, 200-pound big man who excels in transition when he’s running the court. He talked to us about his recruitment, his secret passion for drawing and much more so check out the interview transcript below. We’d also like to thank Norvel for supplying us with pictures of his art work which we displayed below.
Just getting to know the coaches and seeing all the different schools and knowing that all of these different schools are interested in you playing basketball.
What was your least favorite part of the recruiting process?
Just picking, picking a school because all of them were my favorites. Washington, Oregon, U.C.L.A. and Kansas were all in the running very strongly. St. John’s didn’t slip into the picture until last summer and they said they really liked me and we started talking. We got to know each other well and then I went to visit New York and I was like ‘this is home, this is where I need to be.’
What was the most exciting part for you in your recruitment?
Getting on the plane and going to St. John’s, it was just like a dream. When I got there the coaches were waiting there and they just asked me, ‘are you ready for this adventure?’ and I just responded, ‘yeah.’ Just being able to experience things other kids don’t get to experience is a blessing. Another favorite memory is when I was at U.C.L.A. for a camp, and they had Jerry West as a guest speaker. It was very cool to meet him.
Why did you commit to St. John’s?
I wanted to get the best of both worlds. It’s a perfect opportunity with their new class of freshman and being in New York. I have a good relationship with the whole coaching staff and we try to connect on a daily basis. They’re all down to earth and chill.
Was there a particular moment when you knew you had to go to St. John’s?
Yes, there was. When I took a visit up there and they showed me around New York and then they showed me different areas of the campus. I just told myself that I had to be here.
What do you like about St. John’s that isn’t basketball related?
It’s a small private school and the area it’s in is great. I have family up there in New York that I know through the phone so I can connect with them and just being on the other side of the country, being able to experience life on the East Coast.
It is going to be a difficult transition because I am a west coast kid. It’s going to be a little tough but my family members out there will keep me motivated to push myself to greatness.
Who else in your recruiting class do you look forward to playing with?
I’ve played with Amir Garrett, I definitely look forward to playing with him again. But I’m just looking forward to playing with the whole class we having coming in and getting to know each guy on an individual basis. I also want to get to know the guys outside of basketball so I’m just excited in general to be on the team with those guys.
Are you recruiting anybody else to come to St. John’s with you?
No, currently I’m not. I’m just focused on getting to St. John’s and playing well there. Eventually I will start giving guys my input on St. John’s but right now I’m focused on basketball.
Growing up, did you have any favorite schools?
Yeah, there were two schools I like: U.C.L.A. and North Carolina. U.C.L.A. was just known for basketball and I liked North Carolina because Michael Jordan went there.
Did liking those two schools affect your recruitment at all?
It did somewhat affect me because they were recruiting me. I was definitely considering U.C.L.A. and North Carolina but in the end I chose St. john’s because it was the best fit for me.
I like Kevin Garnett, Kevin Durant and LeBron James. They’re all aggressive and they’re willing to do what it takes to win.
Are there any venues, teams or players that you look forward to playing at or against?
I’m looking forward to playing at U.C.L.A. and playing against the team I grew up liking.
Who has helped you the most in the recruiting process?
My family more so than anyone else and my AAU coach. I sat down and spoke with my family on a daily basis and got to see how they felt about different colleges and different atmospheres.
You said your family and AAU coach were really helpful, were they supportive in your decision to attend St. John’s?
They were on different sides. One wanted me to go to Oregon but in the end it ended up being my decision in the long run. They were happy though because of our family in New York so we could stay connected.
Why do you play basketball?
It’s just a comfort zone where I can get away. It’s like my own little world.
Responsibility, ownership and working hard to achieve your goals. I have to work hard and take ownership and be responsible in schools so I can maintain a certain G.P.A. and get good grades.
What’s your favorite basketball memory?
It was my first time playing [basketball] and I was 11 years old at the Y.M.C.A. and didn’t know how to play and nobody wanted me. Until this one coach named coach Cory picked me up and worked me out extra hard and that following summer almost every AAU coach wanted me and it was just a blessing to see myself grow like that and become a good basketball player. Also, when I was playing against my best friend’s team and I had the ball in the corner and I was going to drive in but then my coach called a timeout and said you’re not a point guard, you’re a big man, stop trying to dribble the ball. That gave me motivation and brought me down some but it just got me working harder.
What’s one thing people probably don’t know about you?
I’m a jokester, a character. I also like drawing and started doodling and stuff all over the place when I was younger. I went to high school and middle school and we would do big art projects and I would always get A’s on them and I just started looking at art and different aspects of it… so I decided to take up art in college when I was in 10th grade.
What was the coolest thing you ever had to draw?
An African mask, actually a dancing mask, I did a mirage of different magazine ads and placed them inside the borders and put them together and stuff.
*We post our interviews with the top prospects every Monday so make sure you check back every week to see what the top prospects are saying.