Although he could not help his team reach the NCAA tournament, Noah Vonleh proved enough in his one year at Indiana that he was ready for the next level.
Gary Parrish of CBS Sports reports the freshman big man has declared for the 2014 NBA draft:
Indiana freshman Noah Vonleh just told @CBSSports by phone that he will enter the 2014 NBA Draft. Story coming …— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) March 24, 2014
Parrish spoke with Vonleh about his decision:
"It's going to suck leaving college without an NCAA Tournament," Vonleh, a 6-foot-10 freshman, said by phone. "But I have to do what's best for me."
"I've heard the fourth pick to the 12th pick is wide open," Vonleh said. "[I think I'll be selected] anywhere in that range."
The 6'10" forward finished third on the Hoosiers with an average of 11.3 points per game, but he was incredibly efficient on offense while making 52.3 percent of his field-goal attempts. He also showcased the ability to hit an outside shot with a mark of 48.5 percent on his 33 looks from three-point range.
His offensive skill set is impressive with the ability to score from a jump shot, in the post or get to the line and convert there. In fact the biggest issue for much of the year was that he was not aggressive enough.
As good as he is on offense, though, Vonleh is even better defensively. Broadcaster Dan Dakich pointed out the forward's ability after a game:
Vonleh is really good defensively .. Moves his feet .. terrific in help..understands where to be cuz he always sees the ball— Dan Dakich (@dandakich) February 13, 2014
Vonleh finished the year first in the Big Ten with an average of nine rebounds per game and eighth in the league with 1.4 blocks per game. He ended the year with 10 double-doubles, including four in a row to start his career.
Paul Pabst of the Dan Patrick Show explained that the young player's season has been better than another highly touted freshman:
Joel Embiid is good and will be a top 4 pick, but IU frosh Noah Vonleh had been the better frosh center this year.— Paul Pabst (@PaulPabst) March 2, 2014
His versatile game is what first had Vonleh considering taking the jump to the NBA. He is rated by ESPN's Chad Ford as the No. 8 player in the 2014 class thanks in part to a 7'4" wingspan.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports first reported a lean toward the draft, but also quoted an NBA general manager who explained, "He'll spend a lot of time in the D-League next year. He's nowhere near ready to play, but there's no doubt he's got great potential, along with very good character."
On the other hand, Vonleh refused to talk about his future until there were no more games left, telling Zach Osterman of the Indy Star, "I'm not gonna talk about that right now. I'm going to wait until after the season's over."
In the end, Vonleh decided it was the right time to leave and he will forego his final three years at Indiana.
This leaves the Hoosiers in trouble heading into next season. The squad that could not even reach the NIT this year will now lose two of its top three scorers between Vonleh and Will Sheehey. The hope was that Vonleh would be able to take a big jump in his sophomore season and become one of the better players in the conference.
Underclassmen Yogi Ferrell, Troy Williams and Stanford Robinson should create a nice core for the next couple of seasons, but the group will certainly miss the inside presence of Vonleh.
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