2013-2014 Player Profile: Noah Vonleh

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With the start of college basketball season on the horizon, we’ll be taking a long look at the conference at large as well as Indiana’s roster over the next month. Today, we look at freshman Noah Vonleh.

For the third straight year, Indiana welcomes a McDonald’s All-American to campus. Cody Zeller started the parade and was followed by close friend and AAU teammate Yogi Ferrell.

This year, the Hoosier staff dipped into the northeast and landed a consensus top 15 talent in Noah Vonleh from the New Hampton School in New Hampshire.

The 6-foot-10, 240 pound forward with a 7-foot-4 wingspan was originally a member of the 2014 recruiting class, but opted to reclassify and his accelerated pursuit ended with a verbal commitment on his official visit last November.

Vonleh, who just turned 18 in late August, is the youngest player on Indiana’s roster but has limitless upside. Physically, Vonleh, who already appeared ready to play in the Big Ten as a high schooler, has undergone a transformation since arriving on campus. He’s put on more than 20 pounds of muscle, evidence that he’s really taken to Indiana’s strength and conditioning program led by Je’Ney Jackson.

“I wasn’t used to that (the weight lifting) at prep school, so that was a big adjustment,” Vonleh said in June. “I put on a lot of weight and am getting stronger. I just like to be in the gym all the time, getting better, getting my shot better because I’m going to be playing against a lot of guys that are a lot older than me next year.”

In a front court rotation that was depleted of experience following the departures of Cody Zeller and Christian Watford, Vonleh appears poised to establish himself as Indiana’s best rebounder and interior scoring option from day one. But beyond the prowess on the block, he can also step out, handle the ball and knock down midrange shots. His ability to pass from the high post is also present in his game.

“He’s incredibly unselfish,” Tom Crean said of Vonleh after signing day last fall. “They can give him the ball at the top of the key in a 1-4, 1-2-2 type situation, and he just delivers the ball. He’s like Cody [Zeller] in the sense that he doesn’t look for his offense enough. He’s another one of those young guys that we’ve got here and we think is untapped, in the sense that he has no idea how good he can be.”

In a program that will need to continue the “365 day” work ethic following key roster losses last season, Vonleh looks like a perfect candidate to spearhead that movement on a young roster.

Bottom line: Vonleh was incredibly well coached in AAU and at prep school and the competitive schedule he faced should have him well prepared to become an immediate force in the Big Ten. He has the tools to become the best rebounder that the Hoosiers have had in the Crean era and his length and physical tools should help him develop into an elite defender. Like Zeller at times, Vonleh may need to be pushed to become more assertive, but there’s no doubt he has the talent to be an all-league player and a pro for a long time.

Quotable: “Noah, again, the humbleness, the desire to get better, the desire to learn. When you use the term `sponge’, which I don’t use the term lightly in terms of learning, when I call him a `sponge’ he really is. He has high goals, he’s very confident, yet there’s not an entitlement, there’s not an enablement. He’s not wired to think it’s supposed to happen overnight. He knows it’s a process, and we’re fortunate to have him.” –  Crean on Vonleh.

Previously: Devin Davis, Stanford Robinson, Troy Williams, Collin Hartman

(Photo credit: IU Athletics)

  • marcusgresham

    It’s amazing that someone who weighs 240 can still look thin. He’s muscular, but he’s also nowhere nearly as big as he’ll end up being. I’d love to have this kid’s future.

  • Kenneth234

    It is great that he put on that weight. Knowing how hard the basketball season can be, and seeing how the weight comes off through it due to all the conditioning week in and week out. The off season is where you have to add more than you will eventually lose. I think the 20 lbs will cover it. However, the strength gained doesn’t leave over the course of the season. But there is no doubt that Nolah’s frame can hold another 20 to 30 lbs. He will have to make a decision of what sort of player he wants to be at the next level. If he wants to be primarily an inside threat, or look to be a slasher/and shooter that can use his length to score on the inside. That might be one of the more determining factors in how long he stays at Indiana. If it is the latter, he can probably pull off the jump after this season. Otherwise, we may get another season as he continues to develop his body and mind in preparation to his destination as an NBA player.

  • sarge

    gives us an edge in an inexperienced frontcourt. not as polished as zeller was as a frosh, but i think he has more potential. love the work these guys are putting in this summer. start the season already!

  • SCHoosier

    A true “gentle giant” with game in the making.:)

  • HoosierTrav

    He’s got Harrison Barnes written all over him. He is a better rebounder and post player than Barnes though.

  • inLinE6

    I disagree on Vonleh not as polished as Zeller was as a freshman. He shoots well and handles well. Probably not as fast as Zeller but his rebounding is unparalleled.

  • Rie

    Goodluck announcing tonight on ESPNU at halftime of the Louisiana Monroe – Western Kentucky football game.

  • Rie

    I would be very surprised if Noah came in and had as great of an impact as Zeller, both on and off the court. You can chalk that up to having better talent across the board or because he is just that good, but Zeller changed our schools outlook from the moment he stepped on the floor. That being said, they are very different in their individual skill sets, so I would avoid trying to compare specifics.

  • Business First

    He reminds me of Oladipo because he is a gym rat…

  • garyclipp

    definitely please stop

  • sarge

    Zeller was so efficient both years he played and that is why I said what I did. Like Rie notes they are totally different though so you can expect noah to impact the game in a number of different ways cody could not. Zeller was special though and his frosh efficiency was the reason he was pre season POY.

  • nwin iu fan

    He reminds me of oladipo come on man does hartman remind u of victor too

  • jaywiz

    Pat knight reminds me of oladipo because they both played for iu.

  • http://Insidethehall.com/ HoosierKen73

    He reminds me of Oladipo because he is 6′ 10″ and Oladipo was 6′ 4″…and they both are wearing an Indiana uniform…

  • CheesyHoosier

    Bold prediction: Noah wins Big Ten frosh of the year and is first team All Big Ten averaging 13 and 10…

  • Evansville Hoosier

    He’s the second coming of George McGinnis, with a more contemporary skill set.

  • Mount Nimba

    Noah is a humble, powerful, focused and well mannered individual. The is something special about Noah that only a handful of people understand. He is a young man that has something far great then we have ever seen or imagined. He comes from a powerful bloodline of born leaders. He is an American with a strong bloodline from the west coast of Africa. I can’t wait to see the impact he makes on and off the court. This is a sleeping giant that is about to unleash on the world of college basketball. He has been kept under the radar, but watch out world for here comes the man that I like to call the Great warrior!!!! UI is blessed to have this young man in their corner!

  • drewheck

    Ready to watch him work

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