Player Spotlight: Indiana F Noah Vonleh

Story posted February 12, 2014 in Sports, CommRadio by Jeff Jezewski

The Indiana Hoosiers have been maddeningly inconsistent this season. The Hoosiers have the ability to win big games, like they did against Michigan, but they have lost too many games they shouldn’t.

Much of Indiana’s success has to do with getting the ball in the hands of standout freshman, Noah Vonleh. Vonleh has had a very productive first season, but the Hoosiers would be much better off with the ball in his hands more often.

When Indiana took on Penn State earlier this season, Vonleh scored 19 points, a career- high, and pulled down six rebounds. Vonleh scored 12 straight points to start the game and keep Indiana from falling apart. During the first contest, Vonleh was an impressive 7-8 from the foul line. If the Hoosiers want to complete the season sweep of the Nittany Lions, they must feed the ball, in the post, to Vonleh.

The Hoosiers are 3-4 in games that Vonleh doesn’t score in double digits. In those games, the lack of touches for Vonleh was apparent. Touted as one of the best freshmen in the country, Vonleh is at his best with the ball in his hands.

Coming out of high school, Vonleh was ranked as the 13th best recruit in the nation, by ESPN. Vonleh was a McDonald’s All-American, after his impressive senior season for New Hampton School.

During his highly hyped freshman season, the Haverhill, Massachusetts, native has been incredibly efficient, shooting 54 percent from the field and 71 percent from the foul line. The 6-10, 240 pound freshman averages 11.7 points per game, but with more opportunities that number could increase dramatically.

Despite his apparent offensive talent, Vonleh’s best trait may be his rebounding. Vonleh averages 9.5 rebounds per game, ranking him 26th in the nation. The athletic forward has pulled down double digit rebounds in 12 contests this season.

Vonleh has used his length and athleticism to help the Hoosiers on defense, as well. The freshman has compiled 29 blocks and 21 steals on the season for Indiana. He has also altered countless shots due to his strong presence down low.

As the freshman continues to improve and mature, his draft stock also continues to rise. The NBA loves athletic big men, and Vonleh fits the bill. He is projected by many draft analysts to become a lottery pick, if he decides to enter the 2014 Draft.

With the Nittany Lions heading to Assembly Hall after dropping two straight contests, Vonleh could be primed for another big contest against Patrick Chambers’ squad. Penn State’s lack of a true post presence bodes well for talented freshman.

After posting back to back double-doubles, against Michigan and Minnesota, Vonleh has a shot to make it three straight for the second time this season.

If Penn State can’t find a way to contain the big man, it could be a long night for the Lions. An up-and-down Indiana team will look to rebound from their loss to Minnesota, and it all starts with getting the ball to Vonleh.

Penn State and Indiana tip off at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 12.

Jeff Jezewski is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email jvj5228@psu.edu.

Photo Courtesy: (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)