Indiana freshmen: early look

For Indiana, last season was bittersweet. The Hoosiers played the role of favorite all season, and generally they played it well, but their aspirations halted prematurely in the NCAA tournament.

With a less touted squad this season, however, Tom Crean may have his best player yet at IU. Noah Vonleh exited the Class of 2013 as the country's No. 7 recruit, and the former 2014 prospect hasn't required much time to transition to the college level.

Through Indiana's 4-0 start, Vonleh is averaging 15 points and 13 rebounds per game. Were it not for Kentucky freshman Julius Randle, he'd likely be drawing more acclaim for his scoring and rebounding production.

As it is, he's hardly gone unnoticed. Vonleh shooting needs to improve, but he has brought the team a physical presence and also one who adds an impressive complement of skills. He's easily the best rebounder on the team, it's second-best scorer (after point guard Yogi Ferrell) and is contributing blocks and steals as well.

What's most interesting to me about Vonleh is how quickly he transformed his body. He had been a slender high school player, but at the LeBron James Skills Academy last summer he obviously had added significant muscle. He looks like more of a power forward now than a combo forward, as many listed him previously, but obviously the regimen has worked out splendidly for the Hoosiers.

Another freshman also has made his way into the starting lineup. Forward Troy Williams wasn't reputed to be a shooter in high school and hasn't been in Bloomington, either, but his athleticism, hustle and instincts have enabled him to compile averages of 10 points, six rebounds and two steals per contest. Not bad for a fresh face adjusting to the rigors of college life and hoops.

Two additional 2013 signees landed in our final top 100: Stanford Robinson and Luke Fischer. Neither player has started a game and each is averaging fewer than 10 minutes per outing, so it's unclear what to expect from them this season.

Interestingly, Devin Davis was an unranked three star prospect, but he's garnering 13 minutes per game and actually playing slightly more than formerly touted prep star Hanner Mosquera-Perea. The other freshman, Collin Hartman, is playing roughly as much as Robinson and Fischer.

On the whole, this appears to be a solid, foundational class for the Hoosiers that's punctuated by the presence of one star. Vonleh isn't likely to camp out in Bloomington for four years, but he'll give the club a go-to player all season and, even if he departs in the spring, will represent the colors at the next level.

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