Dienhart: Indiana's Noah Vonleh to enter NBA draft

It had been speculated for weeks. Now, it’s a reality: Indiana’s Noah Vonleh is turning pro. He arrived in Bloomington as a five-star recruit, the No. 3 power forward in the nation and the No. 8 player overall, according to rivals.com.

And Vonleh didn’t disappoint en route to winning Big Ten Freshman of the Year.

No Big Ten player is rated higher in mock drafts, as Vonleh is a consensus lottery pick. So, it’s a no-brainer to see him bolt after one season.

NBADraft.net has Vonleh going No. 6 overall. DraftExpress.com has Vonleh going No. 7. ESPN.com’s Chad Ford has Vonleh at No. 8.

The 6-9, 235-pound Haverhill, Mass., product averaged 11.3 points and a Big Ten-leading 9.0 rebounds in 2013-14. He also was ninth in the conference in blocks. But his point totals may have been suppressed by the team’s inability to feed him the ball. Vonleh did his best work on the glass as a relentless rebounder who always played hard on both ends of the court.

No doubt, Indiana will miss Vonleh as the Hoosiers try to rebound from a disappointing 17-15 mark (7-11 Big Ten) that saw IU miss the postseason a year after winning the conference and earning a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tourney.

Next season, Indiana will build around junior-to-be point man Yogi Ferrell and emerging sophomores-to-be Stanford Robinson and Troy Williams. The Hoosiers also will welcome five-star recruit James Blackmon, a 6-4 shooting guard who could be Tom Crean’s biggest catch ever. The in-state product also could be a one-and-down player like Vonleh. Staffers are excited about four-star guard Robert Johnson, too.

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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Al Pittman on 3/24/2014 @ 11:56am EST Said:

This is why I hate the *%$#@*&) ($@%$^ NBA!

Jim V on 3/24/2014 @ 9:51pm EST Said:

Greedy players. Part of me understands that greed. But what a better position Vonleh would be in as a player if he spent another year or even two years to improve. Adreian Payne is a perfect example of how a player can really grow and become so much better before making the transition to the pros by staying in college. Frankly I wish they would just let these greedy kids go straight to the NBA out of high school so college recruiters and coaches don’t have to deal with the headache of replacing these kids after one season.