Noah Vonleh was the most-heralded of Indiana's freshman class, and for good reason. But most of the accolades he received came before he stepped foot on campus. They were a result of his work as a high school athlete.
Since arriving in Bloomington, Vonleh has continued to improve his strengths. But more importantly, he has improved his weaknesses. Vonleh has added more than 25 pounds of extra muscle to be stronger in the paint, and he continues to work to become a better shooter.
In his collegiate debut against Chicago State on Friday night, Vonleh did very little wrong. The 6-foot-10 freshman had 11 points, 14 rebounds and three blocked shots in the Hoosiers' 100-72 win
Oh, and Vonleh was a perfect 5-of-5 from the foul line after missing all eight of his free-throw attempts in two exhibition games.
"He spends more time in the gym right now working on his free throw, and it was great to see him rewarded for that," said Indiana coach Tom Crean. "He had 14 rebounds, and he's not gonna grade out at a high level with his rebounding tonight."
That's the scary thing. Crean said there were too many times when Vonleh thought a teammate was going to make a shot and stood instead of crashing he boards.
Vonleh had five points and three rebounds less than three minutes into Friday night's game.
The greatest thing about Vonleh is his versatility. He can defend multiple positions, he can score from almost anywhere on the court, and he can handle the ball like a point guard. On multiple occasions against Chicago State, Vonleh grabbed a rebound and dribbled all the way down the court.
"I'm real comfortable bringing up the ball," Vonleh said. "I did that a lot in high school. Coach Crean wants to to be versatile in our offense, so he said whoever gets the ball, just push it up the court."
As for the free throws, I'd be the first to raise my hand and say I was skeptical about how good he'd be from the line. I had lots of concerns, and one game doesn't erase all of those, but it's a start. Vonleh -- and the Hoosiers in general -- looked much more comfortable from the charity stripe. They set a school record with 45 made free throws (on 55 attempts).
"I just told myself I need to start calming down and focus on the shot and I'll make it," Vonleh said. "Before, I just felt like I was rushing myself. That was it."