Noah Vonleh

Noah Vonleh adds 25 pounds of muscle in first summer at Indiana

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All summer we’ve been hearing about the crop of incoming freshmen and their potential impact on the 2013-14 season. We’ve heard about Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Aaron Gordon and Kentucky’s incoming class since the late spring all-star games and even Florida’s Chris Walker has made recent headlines for his academic snafu.

But one name from that hyped class of 2013 top ten appears to be flying under the national radar even though he’s put in a significant amount of work this summer: Indiana freshman Noah Vonleh.

Vonleh just turned 18 last Saturday (August 24th) and is one of the younger freshman in the country but Vonleh has added 25 pounds of muscle this summer and gone from 215 pounds to 240 pounds as the Massachusetts native prepares for his first — and maybe only? — season in the physical and rugged Big Ten.

By also drawing good reviews from peers, coaches and scouts at the Amar’e Stoudamire and LeBron James Skills Academies, could Vonleh be primed for a big freshman season?

Inside the Hall briefly spoke to Vonleh during a media session with Indiana’s freshmen on Friday and he mentioned the compliments.

“A lot of guys I played high school basketball and camps with were saying I got a lot bigger and a lot stronger, this and that,” Vonleh said to Inside the Hall. “I just feel like I’m continuing to get better.”

It will certainly be tough for Indiana to replace the production of Cody Zeller and Christian Watford in their frontcourt, but they’re hoping Vonleh can step in and put up immediate numbers. Now that Vonleh is a very respectable 240 pounds, he will have the strength to compete with some of the more seasoned veterans of the Big Ten like Adreian Payne and Mitch McGary.

As Rivals’ No. 8 player in a loaded 2013 class, Vonleh didn’t get as much attention as some of his peers, but his efforts this offseason could lead to a very productive year in Bloomington.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.