Indiana Daily Student

Vonleh to enter NBA Draft

<p>Former Hoosier basketball player Noah Vonleh explains his decision to enter the NBA draft during a press conference April 3 at Assembly Hall.</p>

Former Hoosier basketball player Noah Vonleh explains his decision to enter the NBA draft during a press conference April 3 at Assembly Hall.

Noah Vonleh showed his youth at a press conference on Thursday that was organized to announce his intent to enter the 2014 NBA Draft. His professional career was about to begin, and he arrived in sweatpants.

Vonleh, who will turn 19 years old in August, announced he will forgo his final three years of eligibility and pursue a career in the NBA.

“I just want to thank God for having me here today to announce that I’ll be taking my talents to the NBA,” Vonleh said. “I want to thank the whole Indiana staff ... for all helping me get to where I’m at.”

The Haverhill, Mass., native was named the 2014 Big Ten Freshman of the Year and third team All-Big Ten after averaging 11.3 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. In his lone season in Bloomington, he led the conference in rebounding and double-doubles.

Vonleh said while the decision was a difficult one, the opportunity to follow a lifelong dream proved too alluring.

“It was a pretty difficult decision, but as a little kid, I always had a dream of playing in the NBA,” he said. “So I said, ‘Why not go for it?’ I went home, I talked to my mom ...  I just stuck with my heart and went with it.”

Crean praised his star freshman’s work ethic and preparation.

“We’ve put our time into helping him become better, but he has worked as hard or harder than anybody who’s worked with him,” Crean said. “He has got an uncommon work ethic for his age.

“He literally came in the first day that he was here and started in the gym, came back to the gym that night and has never stopped. It’s amazing how that works.”

Vonleh said he began to think of leaving school toward the end of the 2013-14 season. Vonleh, the seven-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week, said buzz from the media and people around him made him consider the possibility of turning professional after just one season.

“I really started to realize it toward the end of the season,” he said. “A lot of people were like, ‘Oh, he could possibly leave after this year,’ but I tried not to pay too much attention to that. When the season was over, I talked to a few people and saw where they could see me going, and I thought it was the right time to go.”

A projected lottery pick, Vonleh has yet to hire an agent. He becomes the third Hoosier to declare early entry in the NBA Draft in the past two seasons. Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller were selected No. 2 and No. 4 overall, respectively, in last year’s draft.

The 2014 NBA Draft is scheduled for June 26 in New York City.

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