Every season, certain Indiana Hoosiers go above and beyond the norm. These players lead the team night in and night out on both ends of the floor.
Last year, Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo served those roles. If the Hoosiers gave out postseason awards, surely those two would have been recipients.
Now, Zeller and Oladipo are gone, meaning new players will step up and eventually be recognized when the year is over.
Let's take a look at who could be named Indiana's defensive player of the year, most improved player and most valuable player.
Noah Vonleh is going to be a terror on defense.
He's tall (6'10") and long (7'4" wingspan)—the perfect recipe for a defensive menace.
He may be big, but that doesn't mean he's a post player. Vonleh has superior quickness and can guard every position from small forward to center.
His length is going to cause offenses all types of problems. He can disrupt passing lanes, leading to a ton of steals for easy scores. Vonleh's size and vertical will also enable him to block shot after shot.
He's a superb defender, and the rest of the country is going to become aware of his talents very soon.
Will Sheehey was definitely in consideration for this award, seeing as he'll be tasked with defending the opposing team's best wing player in every game.
But, in the end, Vonleh will have more blocks and steals and will make his presence felt more than Sheehey.
Last season as a freshman, Jeremy Hollowell averaged 2.8 points and 2.1 rebounds per game.
Expect those numbers to skyrocket.
Hollowell, a natural scorer, wasn't a primary option in 2012-13. The Hoosiers had Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo, Christian Watford, Jordan Hulls and Will Sheehey to shoulder the scoring load.
Hollowell's job was to play tough defense and grab rebounds.
His role is about to change.
The Hoosiers need offensive production now that all of the aforementioned players (except Sheehey) are gone.
Hollowell wowed in the team's intrasquad scrimmage, scoring 13 points.
He should easily score in double digits consistently and provide Indiana with the offensive spark it needs.
Yogi Ferrell had a very good freshman year, averaging 7.6 points and 4.1 assists per game.
The 2013-14 season should be a banner one for him.
He's a year older and wiser. He's more comfortable with head coach Tom Crean's system. The mistakes and learning curve of a season ago should be a thing of the past.
He had a productive offseason by improving his three-point shot and participating at the World University Games. During the tournament, he more than held his own, averaging 10.3 points and 4.4 assists per game.
These are two signs that a monster year is in the making.
Ferrell's role for the Hoosiers is very important. He sets the tempo and controls the Hoosiers' offense.
A season ago, he was tasked with getting the ball to the team's more experienced players. He wasn't supposed to try to take over the game. Ferrell scored when he had open opportunities to do so.
This year, things will be different. Expect Ferrell to be much more aggressive and attack relentlessly.
He will either find the open man when double-teamed or make a close range shot himself. Either way, Ferrell will be the Hoosiers' creator and playmaker.
He probably won't score the most points or grab the most rebounds. Most people won't believe Ferrell is the team's best player.
Despite this, by the end of the year, he will be Indiana's most important player.