Pelicans’ rookie Nickeil Alexander-Walker talks on the influence of his uncle: “He helped me mature faster”

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 31: Nickeil Alexander-Walker #0 of the New Orleans Pelicans handles the ball against the Memphis Grizzlies on January 31, 2020 at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images)

Nickeil Alexander-Walker’s first season as a professional basketball player was going according to plan until the pause and he has his uncle to thank for that.

Vaugh Alexander is the father of the Oklahoma City Thunder second-year rising star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the uncle of the New Orleans Pelicans rookie guard.

“He was never the head coach. He was the sideline head coach – you know, the guys who are in the stands, and no matter what they’re going to be the loudest,” Alexander-Walker said on NBA.com. “He was definitely there always, took me to practices.”

Vaugh Alexander helped his son and his nephew make it in the NBA, but for Nickeil Walker-Alexander that’s not a surprise.

“He always told me, ‘You’ve got to earn it. You’re never going to just get something (handed to you).’ He gave me a chip. His hunger, his aggression, his passion – you can tell he loves the game to this day.”