Latest posts by Ben Stinar (see all)
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- Exclusive: Hawks rookie Reddish says he’ll find his way - October 27, 2019
- Interview: Rose discusses his strong debut with Pistons - October 24, 2019
“I’m just happy to be here.”
Those were the words Kouat Noi said after finishing his workout with the Atlanta Hawks on Friday. The versatile forward spent last year excelling in the Big 12 for the TCU Horned Frogs, putting up nearly 14 points and 5 rebounds per game.
“To be in this position I’m going to take every advantage of it,” he said.
The rising junior has already made it known, and once again confirmed, he will not be returning to school. A bold move for a player not projected to be a first-round draft pick. However, there are many options if a player is talented enough — overseas, the NBA’s two-way contracts, the G League and training camp invites.
If it weren’t for Noi’s family moving to Australia in 2002, things might have ended up differently. He was born in Sudan. The country is one of the poorest in Africa, and is a place all too familiar with terroist groups.
“I remember dad telling me stories of the war,” he said. “He thought it was a great opportunity for us to go to Australia for a better environment, better education.”
His dad taught him how to play basketball in 2005, and ever since Noi has loved the game. He eventually got the opportunity to represent Australia by playing for its national team.
He also had another friend who loved playing basketball growing up in Newcastle, Australia. That would be none other than Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons.
“He was raised in the same city I was,” he said. “We used to play when we were kids.”
Before he became the No. 1 prospect in America, and dated reality star Kendall Jenner, Simmons played video games at Noi’s house. The two were so close that they ended up going to the same high school in Florida when both decided to journey to America. They didn’t go at the same time, but they eventually became teammates at Montverde Academy for a short time.
“We’ve always been family friends,” he said. “So I still keep in contact with him, his family, and he just helped me a lot.”
Today, Noi has a long way to go, making the rounds of working out for NBA teams during the month of May. After auditioning for the Hawks, he flew to Boston to work out for the Celtics.
“Whatever happens, happens,” he said. “If they think that I need another year I’ll probably go overseas, play one year, and then declare for the draft next year.”