Former Indiana forward Noah Vonleh, a lottery pick in last June’s NBA draft, is on the move after just one season with the Charlotte Hornets.
The Portland Trailblazers announced on Wednesday evening that the organization acquired Vonleh and Gerald Henderson in exchange for Nicolas Batum.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports first reported the trade late Wednesday afternoon.
Vonleh was the No. 9 pick in last year’s draft, but was never a part of the rotation in Charlotte as a rookie and was even sent to the Development League for a brief stint.
The NBA’s regular season is complete and just one of the four Hoosiers currently in the league, Eric Gordon, is on a playoff team. Here’s a look at how Victor Oladipo, Cody Zeller, Gordon and Noah Vonleh fared this season:
· Victor Oladipo, Orlando Magic
Stats (72 games): 17.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.7 steals in 35.7 minutes per game
Notes: Oladipo had an injury setback early in the season, but recovered nicely for a very solid sophomore season in the NBA. His scoring average was up more than four points per game and his shooting percentage was up as well – although there’s plenty of work to do in terms of improving efficiency. In Oladipo and Elfrid Payton, the Magic have one of the more intriguing young backcourts in the league, but more changes are coming for this franchise in the offseason as Jacque Vaughn was let go in-season and the team has yet to hire a permanent replacement.
Quotable: “This is temporary. So that’s motivation in itself. This year — we just need to use it as fuel and fire and go out and work this summer, and this summer needs to be all about winning. We need to come back and have that mentality to do whatever it takes to win.” – Oladipo after Orlando’s final regular season game.
Charlotte Hornets rookie Noah Vonleh, the Big Ten’s freshman of the year last season at Indiana, has been assigned to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA Development League.
Vonleh, the ninth pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, has played in just four games this season for Charlotte. He’s averaging 2.5 points and 2.8 rebounds in those contests.
“We believe Noah would benefit greatly from additional game experience,” Rich Cho, the Hornets General Manager, said in a release. “He will be able to get that playing time through this D-League assignment.”
As a freshman at Indiana, Vonleh led the Big Ten in rebounding and his size and wingspan propelled his draft stock into the lottery. But his transition to the NBA got off to a rocky start as he suffered a sports hernia over the summer and missed training camp.
The Hornets, viewed as one of the NBA’s major disappointments this season, are just 10-21 and are four games out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Steve Clifford, in his second season as Charlotte’s coach, recently said that the preseason setbacks put Vonleh in catch-up mode to begin his pro career.
Periodically throughout the season, we’ll take a look at how former Indiana players are performing in the NBA. Here’s our December update:
· Victor Oladipo, Orlando Magic
Stats: 15.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.3 steals in 32 minutes per game
Notes: Oladipo is clearly the top former IU player in the NBA right now and after he missed the Magic’s first nine games with a facial fracture, he’s been one of the better second year players in the league. He’s shooting the ball much better than he did as a rookie (47.4 percent vs. 41.9 percent), his turnovers are down slightly and the Magic are just two games out of the playoffs in a depleted Eastern Conference.
Quotable: “It’s just about moving forward and not letting my head hang. Before, last year, I would let my head hang and nothing got better and it kept getting worse and worse. I tried something new last game – I stayed positive, I pushed forward and made plays. I went from slow to fast and took my time.” – Oladipo to NBA.com.
Around the Hall is recommended reading from the Inside the Hall staff.
· Yogi Ferrell is the 37th best player in college basketball according to SBNation.com and James Blackmon Jr. is listed among “50 more who just missed” the top 100.
· Nike announced Charlotte Hornets rookie Noah Vonleh is one of three rookies to recently join the Jordan Brand team.
· Ferrell and Blackmon are a big reason why Indiana is one of the top 20 backcourts in America, according to NBCSports.com and Ferrell was also listed as the fifth best lead guard in the country by NBC.
· ESPN.com released its preseason power rankings and the Big Ten has five teams in the top 25.
· In an ESPN Insider piece (premium link), ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman picked Indiana to finish eighth in the league.
· In a season primer of sorts, the Associated Press writes that Indiana is changing its attitude to change its course.
· Zach Osterman’s takeaway from Hoosier Hysteria: Hanner Mosquera-Perea is better.
· Ken Pomeroy details what factors play into his preseason ratings, which have Indiana slotted at No. 26 nationally.
· Four former Indiana players are on NBA rosters to begin the 2014-2015 season: Eric Gordon, Victor Oladipo, Cody Zeller and Vonleh.
· The one-month contract that D.J. White signed in Spain expires next week.
After a one-year stop in Bloomington, Noah Vonleh is set to begin his NBA career as a Charlotte Hornet on Wednesday night against Milwaukee.
Like Cody Zeller, another former IU player drafted by Charlotte, Vonleh enters a unique situation as a rookie selected high in the NBA draft. Most lottery picks are thrown into the mix immediately out of necessity, but Vonleh will be brought along slowly on a team that once again has playoff aspirations.
“I felt very fortunate (to go to Charlotte),” Zeller told Inside the Hall over the summer. “I learned a lot. We have a good group of veteran guys and making it to the playoffs as a rookie was a big opportunity.”
The 6-foot-10 Vonleh will join Zeller in Charlotte’s frontcourt with hopes of helping the franchise get back to the playoffs. His pro career, however, got off to a slow start as he missed time in the preseason following surgery to repair a sports hernia that he suffered over the summer.
He did return recently to appear in one preseason game and scored four points and grabbed four rebounds in 19 minutes.
“He’s got a lot of talent. He’s eager and athletic,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford told The Charlotte Observer after his preseason debut. “There was a lot of good, a lot of bad (in his first game). Noah was the one guy who could not afford to miss September and October.”
While Vonleh is not expected to be in Charlotte’s rotation to begin the season, Hornets owner and chairman Michael Jordan said earlier this week that drafting Vonleh at No. 9 in June’s draft was an opportunity he didn’t believe he would have.
Opening night of the NBA season is less than a month away and training camps have opened across the league this week along with media day events taking place.
Here’s a look around the league at former Indiana players and their start to the 2014-2015 season, which includes some video interviews, quotes and links:
· Victor Oladipo is expected to take on larger role in his second season in Orlando and will look to help bring along rookie Elfrid Payton, who has a similar background in many ways.
· In Charlotte, rookie Noah Vonleh is still recovering from surgery to repair a sports hernia, but is hoping to get medical clearance soon.
According to the Charlotte Observer:
Vonleh said he was playing pickup basketball on Indiana’s campus when he felt a “pop,” which he thought was just a groin pull. But the pain grew worse, and he had an MRI that revealed a tear. Vonleh is now able to work out on an elliptical machine and start some light shooting and jogging. He says he’s feeling much better in the last week.