Thursday evening, Noah Vonleh and Indiana head coach Tom Crean met with the media to discuss Vonleh's future in heading to the 2014 NBA Draft. None of this was news, of course, after Vonleh made his announcement through a story by Gary Parrish of CBS Sports 10 days prior.
Instead, Thursday's press conference was to talk about the growth that Vonleh has made over the past year at IU and the opportunities the university and the program provided him and could provide potential recruits in the coming years.
But, with Vonleh, Crean said it all started with the freshman's own intangibles.
"It didn't take long to see his personality; it didn't take very long to see his character; it didn't take very long at all to see his work ethic, and for someone his age, much like we've had with other guys that we've been up here with that were 20 and 21 last year when we did that, those things all really, really translate," Crean said.
"They translate into how good you are on the court. They translate into how good you are as a teammate. They translate into how coachable you are. They translate into your upside."
Crean continued, talking about how advanced Vonleh was in his work ethic in the film room, much farther along than last year's No. 2-pick Victor Oladipo was his freshman year at IU.
"I've never coached a freshman…that dives into the film and studies film like he does, and not just the film that we watch as a group, but the film that he watches," Crean said. "It took Victor basically his junior year before he really got that down and transferred that into a big part of how he learned and a big part of how he played. Noah started doing that this year."
Vonleh's studious nature extended beyond the court as well. Crean prompted Vonleh to point out that at the end of this semester, he will have completed 43 percent of the progress toward his degree from the university. Of course, that's after three semesters of class – Vonleh began his coursework last summer – but still, with the NCAA considering players who are on track to graduate in five years in compliance with the NCAA's academic principles, Vonleh and past IU players' academic success shines a positive light on the program.
Oladipo graduated last year on his 21st birthday in three years, and after leaving for the NBA draft after two seasons at IU, Cody Zeller was on track to meet his graduation requirements after this year's fall semester.
Sure, the Hoosiers may have underperformed as a team to fan expectations this past season, but as Crean said several times, the program has proven it can compete with the best in transforming players into draft-ready competitors ready for life on the NBA court and life after their time in basketball has finished.
"People come here to realize their dreams. They come here to build on their goals and where everybody has something in common. Nobody comes here, nobody goes to a university like Indiana just to get by," Crean said. "We're excited about the guys that are coming in, and we're excited about the prospects of what could potentially happen for us in recruiting and absolutely love the way the guys are working here.
"We're good. We're working at a very good rate."