CHARLOTTE — Jalek Felton spent Tuesday morning in a familiar environment.
The former UNC guard, who was suspended from the University in January 2018 and withdrew just over a month later, was one of six players at a pre-draft workout hosted by the Charlotte Hornets.
He took shots and scrimmaged on the practice court that he hung out on as a kid, back when his uncle, Raymond Felton, now with the Oklahoma City Thunder, was starting his career with the then-Charlotte Bobcats. To work out on that same Spectrum Center court as a prospective NBA player, the younger Felton said, was a "tremendous blessing."
Jalek Felton getting some shots up with UNC-Greensboro's Francis Alonso at the end of this Hornets pre-draft workout pic.twitter.com/6YnXTarJmf
After the workout, Felton met with reporters for a wide-ranging interview that touched on his time at North Carolina, his experiences playing overseas in Slovenia and Finland, his future basketball plans and more. Here are some relevant excerpts:
"I’m blessed to be going through this process right now, with all I’ve been through in the past year and a half. It’s a tremendous blessing. I can’t thank God enough."
On any updates regarding his suspension and withdrawal from UNC:
"Not really. I was just young, made a couple bad decisions. That’s in the past. Looking forward and just moving forward from here."
Asked Jalek Felton if he had any updates on his UNC suspension/withdrawal last spring: "Not really. I was just young, made a couple bad decision. That's in the past. Looking forward and just moving forward from here." @DTHSportspic.twitter.com/P1vYMsasTr
"It taught me a lot, you know what I’m saying? With almost losing basketball to here (working out for the NBA Draft) is unbelievable. It just made me grow up fast. It just made me grow up and realize how fast something can be taken away from me. And I appreciate the game a little more now — a lot more now — than I did before.
"Going over there as a 20-year-old kid on your own, that’s rough, man. The first month was tough, but it taught me to fight through adversity on my own. I don’t have Mama, I don’t have Daddy to hold my hand. I just had to go up and get it on my own, learn to mature and just really be on my own. It helped me to be a man today, walking in here, just doing everything on my own."
"They play super hard. They’re aggressive. It’s just a totally different world over there; they look at basketball in a whole different way than we do. They’re not as talented, so they just play really hard and really aggressive. There’s some you meet who have talent with aggression, and they’re really good. It honestly gets you prepared. It makes you grow up really fast over there.
"Sometimes, you go on a team and meet a vet that’s 30. He’s done been there 10 years, 12 years, and you’ve got to battle that every day. There’s a lot of ups and downs. It was definitely challenging."
Felton said he still keeps in touch with "mostly all" of his former UNC teammates he played with in 2017-18.
"I’m really hoping I’ll get drafted, but if not, a Summer League invite for sure. Worst case scenario, G League. For sure, if possible, I’m trying to stay in the (United) States."
On how much of a resource his uncle, Raymond Felton, has been:
"A big help, considering he’s done walked every path I walked, except for overseas. As far as being in here and going through this process, he’s helped a lot. He told me you need to get in shape ASAP. You come in here, you’re not in shape? You’ll bum it. My main thing was really getting my body in the best shape I can get, come in here and give it all I got and leave it here, leave it up to them to make the decision."
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