Well, it was fun while it lasted, but the Noah Vonleh era for the Indiana Hoosiers has come to an end, per Zack Osterman of The Indianapolis Star. The Big Ten Freshman of the Year is heading to the NBA, leaving behind a program in disarray.
You can't really blame Vonleh for jumping ship. Yes, another year in college would probably do him plenty of good, but according to B/R's Jonathan Wasserman, the fantastic freshman will be a lottery pick. That type of money is tough to turn down.
The jump to the professional ranks may be rough at first for Vonleh, but when your stock is high, it makes sense to leave.
This decision presents serious implications to Indiana's program. Vonleh was an integral part of the Hoosiers' game plan night in and night out. Here's where his decision leaves the Hoosiers as they attempt to rebuild from a dismal 17-15 season.
Post Players? Anyone? Bueller?
With Vonleh gone, IU is scarily thin in the post. Unlike when Cody Zeller left and the Hoosiers knew they had a ready replacement in Vonleh, the current situation is quite different.
As the Hoosiers recruiting class currently stands, no post player is coming to Bloomington in the fall. Jeff Howard, who saw some time down low, is graduating, leaving just Hanner Mosquera-Perea, Peter Jurkin and Devin Davis as potential replacements.
Mosquera-Perea has improved in his two years in Bloomington, and at times has looked like he can be a stud for the Hoosiers. His eight-point, five-rebound performance against Ohio State gave us a glimmer of hope; however, he has been anything but consistent.
Jurkin may have the size, standing at 7'0", but he lacks experience. He's barely played in his two seasons as a Hoosier and is still very raw. He still needs to develop before he's ready.
Davis arguably played the best out of the three this season, averaging 2.4 points and 2.5 rebounds per game to go with solid defense, but his size is a concern. Davis only stands at 6'7", and asking him to guard Big Ten bigs every game would be a lot to handle.
Perhaps one of these three can make meaningful strides in the offseason, but regardless, head coach Tom Crean has to be concerned.
Defense and Rebounding
I'm not going to say that Vonleh wasn't valuable to the Hoosiers offense, because he definitely was, but his scoring will be easier to replace than his defense and rebounding.
Next season, the Hoosiers will have James Blackmon Jr., a prolific scorer who should see plenty of minutes as a freshman.
In his high school senior season, Blackmon Jr. averaged 33.1 points per game, a scoring ability that will hopefully translate to the college level. So in theory, IU's scoring should take care of itself, but Vonleh was the driving force behind the Hoosiers' defense and rebounding.
His defensive rating of 91.7 was the best on the team. For being his first true season as a low-post player, he held his own against Big Ten competition. Yes, he fouled too much here and there, but overall you have to be happy with Vonleh's defense.
As far as rebounding is concerned, he cleaned up the glass better than any other player in the Big Ten (9.0 rebounds per game). The Hoosiers could always count on Vonleh to rebound well on a nightly basis.
Now, without him patrolling the glass and defending the post, the Hoosiers could be destined to be at a major disadvantage against Big Ten foes.
It's still too early to project total doom and gloom for the Hoosiers because of Vonleh's decision, but it's definitely not all sunshine and rainbows right now in Bloomington.
There is still time for Crean to find a replacement or have one of the current Hoosiers develop into a suitable big man, but until either of those happens, Vonleh's departure leaves a gaping hole in IU's lineup and a question mark on the program's future success.
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