Nine of the 17 players on this season's Indiana Hoosiers basketball roster are not returning next fall. But on the day freshman Noah Vonleh made his public declaration for the NBA draft, Indiana coach Tom Crean expressed no concern about the departures from his program.
"I'm not concerned one bit," said Crean. "There are a lot of things that you're building towards, that you're working at in recruiting that are not always public. We have great confidence in what we're doing. We have great confidence in the guys that are here."
Indiana said goodbye to four seniors (Will Sheehey, Evan Gordon, Jeff Howard, Taylor Wayer). On March 24, three players (Jeremy Hollowell, Austin Etherington, Jonny Marlin) announced they would transfer and walk-on Joe Fagan decided to quit the basketball team but stay at IU.
"There are no long faces," said Crean. "That's no offense to anybody. We're good. We're working at a very good rate."
Vonleh leaves Indiana after just one terrific season in Bloomington. Vonleh averaged 11.3 points and nine rebounds a game on the way to be being named Big Ten freshman of the year.
"I think I proved that I've got a pretty good skill set," said Vonleh. "I can step out and shoot three's. My post game has gotten a lot better. I'm still a work in progress and can improve on a lot of things."
Vonleh shot 52.3%, 48.6% on three pointers. The 6-10, 240 pound forward from Haverhill, Massachusetts, led the Big Ten in rebounds per game and double-doubles (10).
"If you were taking a definition of upside, you could easily put his picture next to that definition," said Crean. "But there's more than that. There's a tremendous amount of substance to what Noah does. He has an uncommon work ethic for his age."
Vonleh will still be just 18 years old when he is drafted in June. Yet in just one year of college, he will have completed 43% of his degree requirements at the end of this semester. He expects to be an NBA lottery pick taken in the first 14 selections of the June draft.
"We got the information from the teams," said Vonleh. "We got the feedback from what they said. I just felt like I'd be ready to go. It's always been a dream of mine to play in the NBA. The chance was there and I went with it."
"As happy as we are for him," said Crean, "and as much as you would like to spend more time with him, because he's such a good person and he's got such a great work ethic and he's grown so much here, the bottom line is he has a dream. He chose Indiana to be the place to help him get to that dream."
A year ago, Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller left IU early for the NBA draft. The Orlando Magic selected Oladipo second overall and the Charlotte Bobcats selected Zeller fourth overall.
"You can get your dreams accomplished here," said Crean. "That's a big thing. He's going to stay in this line of lottery picks that we've had here."
"It was a pretty difficult decision," said Vonleh. "But ever since I was a little kid I had a dream of playing in the NBA. So I said why not go for it."