Vonleh reflects on time at IU, looks ahead to future at NBA draft combine

  • 05/15/2014 11:49 am in

Noah Vonleh isn’t participating in drills at this week’s NBA draft combine in Chicago, but the Big Ten freshman of the year did make some waves this morning with his hand and wingspan measurements.

According to Draft Express, Vonleh had the second longest hand length ever measured at the combine at 11.75″. Here are Vonleh’s other measurements:

Height (without shoes): 6’8″
Weight: 247 pounds
Wingspan: 7’4.75″
Standing reach: 9’0″

The former IU big man also sat down with NBA TV to answer some questions, which we’ve transcribed below:

On why he decided to leave Indiana after one season:

“It’s always been a dream of mine to play in the NBA. The opportunity was there, so I said, ‘why not take it?’ I sat down with some of my family and my mentor and discussed it out and we decided at the end of the day that it was the best decision.”

On whether he was surprised to have the option of leaving after one season:

“I knew it was going to be sometime quick after one or two years. I’m glad it came after one year. I just went in the gym every day and worked hard and now I’ve got this opportunity in front of me.”

On the one skill set that he knows will translate from college to the NBA:

“The skill that will allow me to play right away I think is rebounding. I’m a very great rebounder. I’m real versatile. Some people know that and some people don’t know that I can handle the ball and create for others and do different things like that.”

On adjusting to NBA life off the court:

“It’s going to be tough. I’m 18 years old. I’m going to need a lot of help. Hopefully some of the older guys on the team will take me under their wing and show me the ropes of the NBA and just go from there.”

On whether he expects to face up more in the NBA:

“I definitely see that as being an advantage. I can step out and take guys off the dribble on the perimeter. If I have a smaller guy on me, I can post him up and score around the basket, score in different ways.”

On playing under Tom Crean and how that will prepare him for the NBA:

“Coach Crean, he’s a great coach. He pushes his guys past their limits. I’ll definitely be prepared for any team, whatever they throw at me in the NBA.”

On whether the story of him going to play basketball at the YMCA while on a family vacation to Disney World is true:

“Yes sir. I went to the park and went on a couple of rides with them but I felt like I needed to get in the gym because I had a couple of AAU tournaments for the live period coming up the next week. So I just wanted to be ready.”

On where that drive to work comes from:

“I think I got that hard work for my mother because she works two jobs and she tries to provide for me and my sisters. I think I just look at her and that’s where I get my work ethic from.”

On the most important thing he learned at Indiana:

“I learned a lot from Coach Crean on the basketball court, just how to play in NBA offenses and things like that. Being more of a leader on the court.”

Filed to:

  • Rie

    I wish Noah’s time here went differently. He is a great kid and great basketball player; couldn’t be happier for him. I hope he gets drafted by a strong franchise with some good veterans surrounding him.

  • KevOMG

    Good luck to the guy. I wish we had him longer as I think we all agree he needed more time to sharpen his game, but it’s great to see a kid achieve his dream. IMO, it’ll be a few years until he provides a real impact to a team (i.e. near double double figures on a regular basis).

  • CreamandCrimson

    I know you know your NBA and we’ve made some jokes of the white guy to white guy comparisons so…what’s your NBA-comp. for Noah Vonleh? What I mean is, which current player do you think Noah Vonleh could realistically eventually equal?

  • KmanCRK

    IMO bigs tend to take a little longer to develop into stars in the league. But I think Noah has what it takes to become a regular All-Star. Don’t be shocked if he ends up being a top 5 pick.

  • PocketHoosier

    (Submitted this a minute ago but it didn’t post)
    I fully agree with the sentiment that “I wish IU had him another year” but I’m extremely happy to see that he exceeded his own expectations.

    The real bummer is for this upcoming season. Had he stayed, with a year more experienced Yogi and the upgraded depth at guard and wing, the Hoosiers were set to enter the season fully balanced and reloaded.

    Now, without him (and the exit of Fischer), the offensive balance just skews the other direction towards the outside. Either the teetering needs to level out year over year or Crean needs to come up with some form of a backup plan for the years when the “3 year stud” chokes out future recruiting classes but then decides to leave earlier than expected.

  • inLinE6

    A special guy but came in at a difficult time. If he were not to reclassify into 2013 class, but rather come in with the shooters in 2014 class, I bet that’s going to be a fun year. He didn’t leave significant mark in IUBB’s history but he’s a special talent and tons of positives for future recruits.

    And look at his arm and hands in that picture. It’s like me grabbing a passion fruit.

  • PDXHoosier

    Although his numbers didn’t always show it, NV looked like a man among boys last year. At times he seemed frustrated with the play of others on the team, not getting the ball, etc.

    Wish we had him for one more year, but good for him to take the next step

  • sd chuck

    Joakim Noah, foot speed about the same, NV is better shooter, JN better passer, both rebounding machines.

  • Gregory Spera

    Surprised to hear that Vonleh is really just 6′-8″ tall. I’m going to go with another guy who’s 6′-8″ and plays a good PF in the league, Paul Millsap.

  • Rie

    Like most of the analysts, I have to go with Bosh. However, I would pepper in a bit of Josh Smith (not this years version) as well, at least in terms of defense, ball handling and athleticism. This is pretty much encapsulated in his answer on his face up game; he has the ability to knock down the three ball well and beat guys off the dribble. Combine that with banging in the low post and getting easy rebounds, and you have a player that can really be a mismatch no matter where you put him from the three to the five. Obviously he is best suited at four, but like Bosh, he can really change an entire team’s game plan on the offensive end or be used to best suit the other personnel on the team. Like Josh Smith, I can see his defense being great and his length being something that really disrupts the guys he is guarding. He does need to work on that initial burst to the hoop though, once he makes his first move. If he can get that and his interior passing down, I really think Noah could be one of the top three guys from this draft down the line.

  • CreamandCrimson

    They are similar in rebounding but I happen to think Joakim Noah is one of the best big man passers in the league and Noah Vonleh wasn’t even a decent passer at the collegiate level though. Just my opinion though.

  • MK

    Not current but I always saw some Chris Webber in his game

  • CreamandCrimson

    Paul Millsap is exactly who I was thinking of when I wrote out the question. He wasn’t a good perimeter shooter until this season but I think the comparison is now very apt.

  • ForeverIU

    He shrunk, because we know how to make big men shrink at IU. LOL.

  • HannerTime Hoosier

    There are Grizzly bears in Alaska . . . Kodiak’s that have 24″ paws with 6″ claws . . . I shall call Noah Vonleh Kodiak from this day forward!!!

  • CreamandCrimson

    I hadn’t thought about Chris Bosh but your rationale makes sense. I think Bosh is 6’11” but Noah is going to play bigger than 6’8″ because of his length so I guess that’s comparable. I think Noah Vonleh is going to be an elite rebounder and no one would call Bosh elite on the glass (I think he averages under 6 boards a game) but offensively, I see what you are saying. As for Josh Smith…I hate his game and think he is an overpaid disaster. The worst “good” player in the league if you ask me. Just my opinion and I’m probably too harsh on him.

  • Rie

    I actually do think Bosh is a good rebounder; Miami encourages their ball handlers to get defensive rebounds so they can shoot down the court in the transition game. Also, Noah is going to play just as big as Bosh, and more vertical. The comparison is much more on the offensive end though, except that Noah will most likely be better with handling the ball, which is where Smith comes in with his versatility.

    Like you say, Josh Smith is an overpaid disaster, but it was not always that way, hence my previous comment in parenthesis. He was deemed to be the “poor mans Lebron” just a couple seasons ago. He was a big who could handle the ball, lead a fast break, and do some serious damage in the low post. I can see Noah doing being the same way, especially with his face up game. His shot selection is garbage, but you also have to remember that the Pistons made him play the three, which is a joke. The guy belongs on the block more than the perimeter, but used to be able to knock down shots when needed (that is not the case anymore, at least efficiently). Defensively, he always did some serious disruption due to a combination of lateral quickness and length. I can see Noah being a similar disruption, but obviously he will need some more work.

    Either way, the guy is very versatile like Josh Smith on both ends of the floor and will pose a similar mismatch, whether playing the three through five. The only difference is I would take his game and add in the efficiency Bosh gives you on offense.

    (Sorry for rambling and being so wordy; kind of lost track myself.)

  • CreamandCrimson

    No need to apologize! Good stuff…Detroit’s decision-making (see: the reason Joe Dumars “resigned” and the reason they have a new coach) the past few seasons has been baffling. Drummond is a beast and Monroe is very good but overpaying Josh Smith to play on the perimeter and take more jumpers is absolutely mind-boggling and, well, stupid. They should have been so much better than they were this past season.

    Bottom line, I think we can both agree that Noah Vonleh can be a very good pro player and can eventually be a building block for a successful team.

  • Rie

    Yes, absolutely. I am a huge Stan Van Gundy fan, so I bet he turns them around. Not to mention, they are in the East, so they could be mediocre and still make the playoffs.

  • Outoftheloop

    Noah was a great player for IU! I wish we had the chance to know him better. But he is a basketball player, and the elite job for any basketball player is in the NBA! IU prepared him and showcased him for the top. Good luck Noah! Come back and visit sometime and check out anyone in red in the stands at your games cheering for YOU! That is why you chose Indiana! He only measured 6’8, I believe that Hanner is about the same. How do Hanner’s measurables compare to Noah”s? Hanner should be able to do most of what Noah did except hit the 3. I thought all year that Noah was 6’10 or 11.

  • FinEndNow

    Well he is probably 6-9 or 6-10 with shoes on.

  • Outoftheloop

    Would you care for some cheese with that “wine”? This article points out that Hanner has virtually the same physical tools as Noah, and comes in to 2014-15 much ahead of Noah in preparation, experience, understanding of the IU basketball program and his teammates. Hanner should be “Noah without the 3 ball”! What a childish set-up: “If the project Bigs don’t enter the non-con season game ready, the season is going to be in jeopardy as soon as it starts…” Of course they won’t! So what? Neither will their opponents-the second teamers for the opposing schools! IU will start 2 juniors, 2 sophomores and 1 freshman who can shoot lights out and score the ball: Hanner, Yogi, Devin, Troy, and James. Not bad on experience. Three solid scorers in Yogi, Troy and James. Three proven, strong rebounders in Troy, Devin and Hanner. With subs for every position on the court starting with Stan, a 6th starter, then a great freshman prospect in Robert, then three promising but unproven freshmen in Max, Jeremiah and Tim. I like that roster!

  • Kyl470

    I know he doesn’t play anymore, but when I watch Noah I think of Chris Webber.

  • Kyl470

    That’s exactly what I said. He reminds me of a modern day Chris Webber.

  • Outoftheloop

    Kevin Garnett. Noah can shoot the 17′ jump shot, the 3-ball, and drive to the rim; he is a tough rebounder at both ends; he just plays hard and hustles all of the time.

  • PocketHoosier

    I meant to say conference season

  • Outoftheloop

    And Joakim is the best Big defender in the league! You notice Noah did not mention defense as a strength immediately transferable to the NBA.

  • Rie

    I’m not seeing it in any way, apart from the great rebounding.

  • Outoftheloop

    That is why they take the measurements that COUNT barefoot!

  • Outoftheloop

    Then never mind.

  • Gregory Spera

    Plus, Joakim is a legit 6′-11″ and plays center for the Bulls. Don’t think Vonleh is going to see much time at center in the NBA.

  • Gregory Spera

    Don’t think Vonleh is as athletic as Josh Smith. Few are.

  • CreamandCrimson

    “Hanner…comes in to 2014-15 much ahead of Noah in preparation, experience…” I understand you mean college playing experience. However, in purely basketball experience, Noah is way, way ahead of Hanner. Hanner is still really young in terms of basketball experience and I think it shows with a lack of instincts on the floor.

    That’s not to say he can’t develop those instincts along with his skills but to say that Hanner is ahead of Noah in experience just because he’s a junior whereas Noah was a freshman is missing the really important part of experience and that’s time spent playing the game of basketball…whether it be as an 8-year old on a playground, a middle schooler, in high school or college. Noah has been playing for a long time, Hanner has not and I think that really, really matters. Just my opinion.

  • Rie

    I totally agree, but I would say the versatility is similar, and what Noah lacks in comparable athleticism, he makes up for with his wingspan/size. I think they can cause a similar disruption/mismatch on both ends.

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    Best of luck to you Noah. Thank you for the time and hard work you put in at IU.

  • PocketHoosier

    The point that I was making -that you seem to very optimistically ignore- is that if the project bigs don’t *show up* this coming season, the offense will be one dimensional if Crean insists (and he will) on running his bread and butter offense.

    If the only current big on the roster that can be counted on for anything (Hanner) doesn’t make really big strides, there will be extreme difficulty on the low block as soon as Big10 play starts.

    Jeremiah April looks to be a promising player and may develop into an anchor for next year, but no one can seriously expect that he’s going to come in and perform *as a freshman* at the level that is required to succeed in the Big Ten without deluding themselves.

  • MillaRed

    Three proven, strong rebounders in Troy, Devin and Hanner.

    Really?

  • CreamandCrimson

    He is always….optimistic, you have to give him that. I would say Troy was a good rebounder for his position (which is now going to be the 4, so we’ll see how that translates). Devin and Hanner might be good rebounders but I don’t think anyone should be calling them proven.

  • MillaRed

    I’m a huge Troy fan that’s for sure. And I think he can add 2 more boards a game if he stops bouncing around like an out of control pogo stick. Keep in mind a bigger body will most likely be boxing him if he is our starting 4.

    Devin Davis looks like he will be a good rebounder on effort if nothing else. But he’s only 6’6″ so I don’t expect many double digits.

    Hanner lost minutes to Jeff (2 inch vertical) Howard last year. He didn’t prove anything other than slight improvement. The improvement we are asking of him at this juncture is IMO too much to ask. But I am hoping for the best.

  • PocketHoosier

    “Three solid scorers in Yogi, Troy and James.”

    Troy has the potential to be on that list, but he isn’t there yet. Blackmon hasn’t even shown up yet and he’s being counted on much farther than I think can be seriously expected as a freshman. I’m confident he will be great, but I’m not confident he will be as great as a freshman as this team will need if the bigs don’t get themselves really ready.

    “Three proven, strong rebounders in Troy, Devin and Hanner.”

    Troy: 4.4 rebounds a game

    Devin: 2.6 rebounds a game

    Hanner: 2.1 rebounds a game

    You have a different definition of “proven, strong rebounder” than I do.

    “With subs for every position on the court starting with Stan, a 6th starter, then a great freshman prospect in Robert, then three promising but unproven freshmen in Max, Jeremiah and Tim.”

    We are very deep at guard and wing and very thin on the low block. Your mention of Stan is the one thing you’ve said that is reasonable. Johnson will be good, but don’t expect him to leapfrog Stan. Best hopes for this season would be as a solid sub. Hoetzel will likely be used as a stretch 4, but he’ll be playing against too solid of competition to expect him to rise to the top from day one. Jeremiah will *hopefully* solidify himself as a worthy big. Priller will likely be a low minute sub or used in situational basketball.

    “Coach Crean, please play all 10 of these guys, and no one else.! Let’s give them each a real chance to show that they belong! No walk-ons, ever! Collin (and Peter) only when he is 100% ready to contribute.”

    Hartman will be spending this season rehabbing his torn ACL. Peter is a dud from a basketball standpoint.

    ” I like that roster!”

    I like the roster too, but I think you’re expecting too much too early and you’re overvaluing nearly the entire bench and half of the starting rotation in some form or another.

  • PocketHoosier

    lol…they don’t go out on the court barefoot, do they?

    I’d say the height measurement with shoes on counts more than the barefoot measurements. Measuring barefoot just makes it an on par comparison because different shoes are of different thicknesses.

  • calbert40

    Excellent comparison. I hadn’t thought of him immediately, but I don’t think I can come up with anyone better.

  • marcusgresham

    “…they don’t go out on the court barefoot, do they?”
    That’s the same thing my friend used to say to me. He’s a half-inch shorter than I am. I’m exactly 5’7 3/4″. He claimed to be 5’9″. lol

  • ForeverIU

    I think what he means by “proven” is that they have shown an ability to want, go after and obtain that orange sphere, and that they have done it with spirit. Now that is the “spirit” of what Loop said, and I love his spirit.

  • N71

    Steve Nash minus some badonkadonk.

  • Joakim is quite a bit taller.. I believe he’s a pretty solid 6′ 11″.. Don’t think he’s nearly as long, but then again, who is?
    I do think his rebounding will be his best asset starting out.. While I really hated to see him go, I hope he does great.

  • kaponya44

    It must be those darned shoes again..First we were told they might be the reason people dunk,now people are trying to say they make you taller too 😉 Lol

  • ForeverIU

    Okay, so Noah must have had inflatable implants inside his soles. It
    explains his 6-10 height and rebounding bounce. At season’s end the
    implants either burst or suffered a slow, irreversible leak. Either way,
    now he is back to his natural deflated 6-8. I have finally solved the
    mystery of his late season “injuries” — signed, Inspector Clusoe

  • Snookafly

    Quick question, does your dog bite?

  • CreamandCrimson

    This joke must be going over my head…I don’t get it.