Hornets announce 6 signings, including five rookies

By Richard Walker

The Charlotte Hornets announced six contract signings on Monday night, including four players selected in the recent NBA draft.

No. 3 overall pick LaMelo Ball, No. 32 overall pick Vernon Carey, Jr., No. 42 overall pick Nick Richards and No. 56 overall pick Grant Riller were signed to contracts with the team in addition to veteran free agent Bismack Biyombo and undrafted free agent Nate Darling.

Riller and Darling were signed to two-way contracts with the Hornets G-League affiliate in Greensboro.

Ball, a 6-foot-7 guard, played for the Illawara Hawks of Australia’s National Basketball League during the 2019-20 season. He was named NBL rookie of the year after averaging 17.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 1.7 steals in 12 games.

During the season, Ball became the youngest player in league history to record a triple-double with a 32-point, 11-rebound and 13-assist game against the Cairns Taipans. He then became the fourth player in league history (and first since 2005) to record back-to-back triple-doubles with a 25-point, 12-rebound and 10-assist game against the New Zealand Breakers.

A 6-foot-10 forward, Carey was named national freshman of the year by USBWA and ACC rookie of the year in his one season at Duke. Also chosen second team All-American and first team All-ACC, Carey averaged 17.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and 1.0 assists for the Blue Devils.

A 6-foot-11 center who was born in Kingston, Jamaica, Richards was a draft night acquisition from the New Orleans Pelicans (for a 2024 second-round pick) after playing three years at Kentucky. He was chosen All-SEC and to the all-league defensive team after averaging 14.0 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks in 31 games for the Wildcats.

A 6-foot-3 guard, Riller averaged 18.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 132 career game and was a first team All-Colonial Athletic Association pick in his final three seasons. During his senior year, Riller set school records with a 43-point game against Hofstra and the school’s first triple double – 20 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists – against Northeastern.

Biyombo is entering his 10th year in the NBA who was originally a draft night trade acquisition of the Hornets in 2011 after being the No. 7 overall pick of the Sacramento Kings. Biyombo, who averaged 7.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 0.9 blocked shots in 53 games (29 starts) last season, was re-acquired by Charlotte in a three-team trade involved the Orlando Magic and Chicago Bulls in July 2018.

Darling is a 6-foot-5 guard who went undrafted out of Delaware after averaging 21.0 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 32 games for the Blue Hens last season. A transfer from UAB, Darling was an All-CAA selection last season.