INDIANAPOLIS- Some news we all saw coming came out on Monday morning and that was Indiana Hoosiers Freshman forward Noah Vonleh has officially declared for the 2014 NBA Draft. Vonleh, was the Big 10 Freshman of the Year this past season after averaging 11.3 points-per-game and averaging just over nine rebounds per contest.
He was the second Hoosier in the last three seasons to win the award as Cody Zeller won it also in 2012.
But, Vonleh has decided to test the NBA waters after one year in Bloomington.
Is he ready?
I honestly don’t think so.
Is it a no brainer to go pro though?
Vonleh, was going to go pro no matter what and that was never more evident when he reclassified his eligibility in high school. He should have been a senior in high school this past year, but chose to go to IU and be a young freshman. The only reason players do that is to go pro early.
Vonleh, has all the tools to be a great forward at the next level as he has a very good mid-range to long range outside jump shot. He also has the skills to take his man off the dribble and is very good around the rim.
Many experts have him as a lottery pick. Why would he come back with all those millions in front of him and his ceiling like not going to get much higher?
He was rated by ESPN as the eighth ranked Freshman entering this season and has a wing-span of 7-foot-4. He stands nearly 7-feet tall so with his length and size, he’s a game changer.
It’s unfortunate Indiana never utilized him right as he got so few touches this year. That could be another reason to go Pro as he would be better suited to play somewhere else as Indiana hasn’t shown to develop players.
Zeller and Yogi Ferrell were and are arguably the same players that they were in high school. Yes, I know Victor Oladipo improved but it wasn’t due to Tom Crean or the coaching staff. That was hard work by the kid in the summer as he put in many hours trying to get himself better.
Why should Vonleh stay one more year and not improve?
So what does this mean for IU? Where do they go from here?
They’re in some trouble.
I wrote back in December that the transfer of freshman Luke Fischer would hurt this team big time. I saw this coming and I was right.
Vonleh is now gone, Fischer is at Marquette and Jeff Howard (never thought I’d use his name here) is graduating. Who’s left to fill the void?
Is it Hanner Perea? The same sophomore who’s been a gigantic disappointment since he’s stepped foot on the Bloomington campus. The same kid that also got arrested just two days prior to the Purdue game?
What about Devin Davis? Yes, he is a decent replacement, but he gives up size as he’s only 6-foot-7.
I don’t think Davis and Perea are the answer for Indiana’s front court in 2014-2015. That’s where Fischer would have came in as he too had the tools to be a tremendous player at IU as he was finally getting healthy and had the same attributes that made Vonleh successful. He could shoot from anywhere, he had dribble drive skills, he was good around the rim and could hit the glass hard.
He was supposed to be the center of the future. Now he’s gone.
Also add to the fact they lose another 1,000-point scorer in Will Sheehey.
So no front court, losing Sheehey and Vonleh and having no incoming big men could really hurt IU. That’s why Crean is recruiting hard for some transfers or incoming kids that have yet to sign with anyone for a couple of big men.
Ferrell, Stanley Robinson and Troy Williams will be starting next year. Austin Ethrington or Jeremy Hollowell may be the fourth starter, but a fifth and their season heavily relies on if they can secure a big man.
If not, IU may be facing another season like we just saw.
Eric Smith is a Senior Writer for the Indiana Sports Report covering Racing. He’s covered both IndyCar and NASCAR action since 2009 and is recognized as an accredited member of the media by both the IndyCar Series and all three divisions of NASCAR racing.
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