6-foot-5 guard Zach Norvell Jr. had two impressive collegiate seasons for the Gonzaga Bulldogs before declaring for the 2019 NBA Draft.
He took home First-Team All-WCC last season, leading his conference in total three-pointers made. As a freshman and sophomore, he ranked Top 3 among all players in the West Coast Conference for Box Plus-Minus and Top 10 for win shares. He also led his conference in total points scored as a spot-up shooter, per Synergy Sports.
The 21-year-old, Chicago-born prospect spoke to HoopsHype about what he brings to the NBA.
What have been some of the biggest takeaways you’ve had from the pre-draft process?
Zach Norvell: Just taking care of your body. I’ve been understanding that my body is the ultimate money-maker. Just trying to be a pro in that aspect already. I’m working on professionalism about how I treat my body, getting treatment, and stuff like that. And also just time management. Understanding that basketball is what you do every day now, so, you know, work out as much as possible. Make sure you’re being productive while you’re in the gym. You’re not just doing anything, you know what I mean? And like I said, just time management. Understanding what you do with your time throughout the day after you get your workouts in and stuff like that. Eating the right stuff and just being professional about everything.
What was your experience like from playing in the combine scrimmage? What went into your decision to do that and what was your mentality out there?
ZN: I want to be the best shooter in the draft. I have to play well on both ends of the floor. I wanted to be around a bunch of guys that know the game so well. I was just trying to pick their brains as much as possible and learn as much as possible from those guys because I understand that they are the highest level. Like I said, I’m just trying to learn more than anything.
You obviously went into the March Madness tournament knowing you are a very good shooter. Talk to me a little about your three-point shot and the history of it. Do you have a shooting coach? How did you become such a great three-point shooter?
ZN: Just confidence and just getting up a lot of shots, you know? I’ve never had a three-point shooting coach or anything like that but just being in a gym with my dad growing up in Chicago, I’ve been around some good coaches and some good programs. So they’ve been able to help me with things I’ve needed to work on as my career has grown. So for the most part, just being a confident guy, a guy that believes in himself and just works really hard on it as well. I get up a ton of shots and gets a ton of reps.
Excellent. I’d love to hear a little about different play types that really can help you as a three-point shooter and the different schemes where you’ve been able to thrive.
ZN: Pretty much everywhere. They put me a lot of delay actions, a lot of pin-down actions and stuff like that. So just trying to show my improvement in those areas and being patient. Patience is the biggest thing. Trying to read the defense. I’m cleaning up my footwork as much as possible. I’m just stepping up and being confident to make the shot regardless if it’s a spot-up or pin-down or hand-off, anything, whatever the case may be.
And what’s your comfort with the pick-and-roll as a ball-handler and creating out of the pick-and-roll?
ZN: I’m really comfortable with it. Just making reads, making plays is something that I enjoy doing. Getting up open shots. I just love to play winning basketball. The simplest play, for the most part, is what I’ve been learning. You know, over the course of this process, you’re playing with a ton of good guys so you’re making simple plays, trusting them, just making the best possible play for the team to score.
You’re obviously going through this draft process with some other folks from Gonzaga like Brandon Clarke and Rui Hachimura. I’d love to hear a little bit more about the ability that you had to kind of work with each other.
ZN: Just making sure that we’re enjoying the process. A lot of the traveling and different workouts and stuff can get kind of crazy so, you know, just trying to have fun with it and just enjoy it. You know, basketball is something that we’ve played for our whole lives. More than anything, we’re just trying to enjoy the process and put our best foot forward and compete. I think that’s something we did day-in-and-day-out at Gonzaga with the team we had and with the coaches we had. You know, we learn to compete and put our best foot forward and just play winning basketball.
Why did you want to go to Gonzaga and how does Gonzaga help you become a more NBA-ready player?
ZN: Just understanding who I am as a player. Understanding my strengths, and also just growing my mind for the game as well. They helped me think through situations for us and different situations that may have otherwise been uncomfortable for us. They were always challenging us and testing us day-in-and-day-out. I think that’s probably the most important thing.
And what have you heard from NBA teams so far about what they like about what you bring as a prospect?
ZN: My shooting ability, of course. My toughness, my competitive spirit, my communication, my ability to play on both ends of the floor, being able to shoot it, make plays, and also putting a lot of pride in defense.
What have you really felt has been the way that you’re going to be able to make the biggest impression at the NBA level when it comes to the transitioning of your game and everything? Like, what do you think is going to really shine and stand out the most?
ZN: My IQ for the game, being able to think the game, being able to make the right read. My toughness and competition every possession and always understanding that you’re going against some of the best guys in the world so just compete and put your best foot forward and work hard as well. Be a hard worker.
And what do you want teams to know about you through this draft process? What do you think will be the number one takeaway they want to take with you as a person and everything?
ZN: That I’m a good guy, a guy that loves basketball. Down to Earth, really low-maintenance and I love to win. A guy that is really confident as well.
What are some of the things you like to do off the court that kind of helps shape who you are? How do you stay busy?
ZN: I have three little brothers. Two are seven and one is five, so I try to spend as much time with them as possible with my little ones. Just, you know, hang with family, eat food and watch movies.
What was your relationship like with like the support staff, academic advisors and others who helped you most with the process?
ZN: Yes, Stephanie at Gonzaga was my academic advisor and a really great person at heart. You know, always there to help no matter what, really relatable, understanding that basketball is something that we all love to do. She made sure we focused on our academics and how important that is and made sure we knew that the ball is going to stop bouncing one day. So, education is key. And like I said, she just made it the most enjoyable process possible. That was their main goal and it was pretty special.