Underclassmen are expected to dominate the top of the 2014 NBA draft. On Monday, the first talented youngster made his professional intentions known.
Indiana freshman Noah Vonleh told CBSSports.com that he plans to enter the 2014 NBA draft. The Big Ten Freshman of the Year averaged 11.3 points and 9 rebounds during his one season as a Hoosier, which ended in disappointment after IU failed to make the NCAA tournament and N.I.T.
"It's going to suck leaving college without an NCAA tournament" Vonleh told Gary Parrish of CBS Sports. "But I have to do what's best for me."
Vonleh's decision to enter the draft was widely expected. The 2013 McDonalds All-American came to Bloomington with his eyes ultimately on the NBA, hoping to follow in the footsteps of Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo, two former Hoosiers who were selected in the top four of last year's NBA draft. At just 18 years old and with the skillset to play the three and four, Vonleh is expected to have plenty of teams interested in him leading up to the draft.
"I've heard the fourth pick to the 12th pick is wide open," Vonleh said. "[I think I'll be selected] anywhere in that range."
Vonleh -- who is 6-foot-10 with a 7-3 wingspan -- came in at No. 6 on Chris Mannix's most recent Big Board for SI.com. He's listed No. 7 on DraftExpress.com.
Despite Indiana's (17-15) struggles this season, Vonleh managed to shine, although he was never a focal point of the team's offense. The freshman displayed a smooth stroke, shooting 52.3 percent from the field and 48.5 percent from three-point range, and also proved to be a tenacious rebounder, pulling down 9 rebounds per game and finishing with double-digits on the glass in six Big Ten games.
"Some teams are putting him higher on their draft boards than (Kentucky freshman forward) Julius Randle," an NBA scout told the Indianapolis Star. "He's a really skilled player."
According to Inside The Hall, Vonleh is the first player under Tom Crean to leave Indiana for the NBA after his freshman season. The last Hoosier to do so was Eric Gordon in 2007. GARDNER: Meet Noah Vonleh, the other top freshman