Noah Vonleh

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2014 NBA Draft Preview: Top Ten Players in five years?

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source: AP

The NBA Draft is on June 26th, meaning that there are less than two weeks until the next crop of potential NBA all-stars find out where they will be headed to begin their professional basketball careers. Over the course of the next few days, we will be using the expertise that we’ve gained from watching far too much college basketball to give you our insights on some of these prospects.

Today, we take a guess at who from this draft will be the ten best NBA players five years from now:

RELATEDUnderrated Prospects | Overrated Prospects | 2014 NBA Draft Preview

1. Andrew Wiggins, Kansas

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 1), Chad Ford (No. 2)
  • Raphielle Johnson: “I’ll take Wiggins over any other player in the pool. The offensive skills are there, and removing Embiid he’s the prospect best equipped to actually defend his position.”
  • Rob Dauster: “Wiggins had a very, very good season that was lambasted because he wasn’t Kevin Durant or Michael Beasley. Consistent effort and a ‘killer’ mindset are red flags, but he already carries himself like a pro: he knows what nights he can take off and what nights he needs to take over.”
  • Scott Phillips: “Wiggins can defend up to four positions at a high level, has elite open-floor ability and was underrated as a jump shooter last year, despite living under a microscope in Lawrence. His ceiling is absurd.”

2. Jabari Parker, Duke

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 2), Chad Ford (No. 1)
  • RJ: “Offensively his skill set is second to none, and that will make him an impact player. Defensively, the hope has to be that he ends up on a team that can cover for his deficiencies as he learns the ropes and (hopefully) improves in that area.”
  • SP: “Your 2015 NBA Rookie of the Year. Parker is one of the most NBA-ready scorers the drafthas seen in the last few years but he still has to improve on the defensive end to really be among the game’s elite.”
  • RD: “He can score like no one else in this draft. He was benched as a defensive liability against Mercer.”

3. Julius Randle, Kentucky

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 7), Chad Ford (No. 7)
  • Terrence Payne: “If his foot stays healthy, he should be a productive forward, who can develop his skillset around his physical style of play.”
  • RD: “Randle seems assured of having a long, productive career, but I’m not sure he’s a franchise-changing talent like a Wiggins or Parker can be. He’s somewhere between the next Zach Randolph and the next David Lee.”
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4. Joel Embiid, Kansas

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 4), Chad Ford (No. 6)
  • RD: “The concerns with Embiid’s health are obvious, which is why he ended up at fourth on this list despite being arguably the best prospect in a loaded draft class. He’s got foot and back issues, which is not a good thing for a big man, but Yao Ming made eight all-star teams with foot issues. Michael Jordan broke his foot. Zydrunas Ilgauskas had a long, productive career after breaking his foot. It’s risky, but Embiid’s career isn’t over just yet.”
  • SP: “You have to remember that Embiid is still rather new to the game and the learning curve is incredibly steep in the NBA. It could take much longer than five years to learn how good Embiid really is. And what if Embiid is drafted by a franchise that doesn’t do a good job of developing big men, or get him a point guard that can get him the ball?”

5. Dante Exum, Australia

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 3), Chad Ford (No. 3)
  • SP: “The only player on this list I’ve never seen extensively in-person, I did get a chance to see Exum take part in the Combine drills and he’s a long and fluid guard who has a ton of upside. He immediately passes the ‘look test’. How Exum acclimates to the American game could determine how quickly he ascends in the league.”
  • RD: “Exum is talented. He’s also untested. We’ve yet to see him spend a full season going up against elite competition.”

6. Noah Vonleh, Indiana

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 5), Chad Ford (No. 4)
  • SP: “I might be a tad high on Vonleh, but his upside is just so tantalizing, given his size, skill level and age. Vonleh worked hard enough to add 25 pounds of muscle in one summer at Indiana and his jumper has improved immensely as well, to the point where he could be a pick-and-pop or maybe even a catch-and-shoot option in the NBA.”
  • RD: “Full disclosure: I had Vonleh as No. 3 on my list. I think he’s a perennial all-star.”

7. Aaron Gordon, Arizona

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 10), Chad Ford (No. 5)
  • TP: “Will be a solid team player given his defensive abilities. Hard to believe he wouldn’t improve his offensive skills in that span, as well.”
  • SP: “I really don’t get why teams aren’t higher on Aaron Gordon? He’s a tremendous athlete and defender, ultra competitive and he doesn’t try to do too much at this point with the ball in his hands. His development on the offensive end will be a big key in how good he’ll really be.”

8. Nik Stauskas, Michigan

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 9), Chad Ford (No. 10)
  • RJ: “The gains Stauskas made from his freshman to sophomore year with regards to his skill set, physical build and athleticism bode well for his future in the NBA.”
  • SP: “His shooting percentages are ridiculous, he’s improved each of the last two years and he’s deceptive as a ball handler in pick-and-roll situations. The body fat percentage and lack of lateral quickness is a bit of a concern on the defensive end, but you know what you’re getting out of Stauskas as an offensive player and there’s a lot to like.”

9. James Young, Kentucky

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 17), Chad Ford (No. 14)
  • RD: “He can score, he’s a better shooter than he showed last season, and he’s a lefty, which always seems to give people problems. The biggest issue is whether he’ll learn to defend at the next level.”
  • SP: “Young is so smooth and so skilled on the wing that it’s hard for me to believe that his shooting percentages will remain as low as they were at Kentucky. Again, as with Julius Randle, Young could benefit from playing around teammates that aren’t so ball-dominant and playing with guards that can put him in a better position to score.”
  • RJ: “He was Kentucky’s best player in the national title game, and his ability to score from the perimeter and put the ball on the deck will help with the transition.”

10. Elfrid Payton, Louisiana-Lafayette

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 12), Chad Ford (No. 12)
  • RD: “The NBA is infatuated with big, athletic, aggressive guards, and that’s precisely what Payton can do. He’s got the length and quickness to be a defensive menace at the next level as well. Now he just needs to learn how to shoot.”
  • TP: “I think this is going to be the mid-first round pick who has the greatest impact. He’s still very young for being a college junior. Has the tools to be a good on both ends of the floor, and that’s without a consistent 3-point shot.”

Also receiving votes: Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State), Gary Harris, (Michigan State), Tyler Ennis (Syracuse), Doug McDermott (Creighton)

2014 NBA Draft Preview: Eight Underrated NBA Draft Prospects

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The NBA Draft is on June 26th, meaning that there are less than two weeks until the next crop of potential NBA all-stars find out where they will be headed to begin their professional basketball careers. Over the course of the next few days, we will be using the expertise that we’ve gained from watching far too much college basketball to give you our insights on some of these prospects.

Today, we give you the most underrated prospects:

RELATED: Overrated Prospects | 2014 NBA Draft Preview

1. Aaron Gordon, Arizona

  • Projections: Draft Express (No. 10), Chad Ford (No. 6)
  • Scott Phillips: “Known for defending multiple positions and being a win-at-all-costs player with a developing skill-set, Gordon is young for his class and only turns 19 in mid-September and has his best basketball ahead of him.
  • Raphielle Johnson: “The former Arizona forward has his struggles shooting the ball, but he can help a franchise with his size, freakish athleticism and ability to defend multiple positions. While his offensive game needs work, he’s still an asset in the open floor.”
  • Rob Dauster: “I disagree. He can’t shoot, he’s limited offensively, he doesn’t really have a position at the next level, and he’s projected between 6th and 10th in a loaded draft. I love Aaron Gordon. I don’t think he’s underrated.”

2. Noah Vonleh, Indiana

  • Projections: DX (5th), CF (4th)
  • RD: “Vonleh has the size, length and strength to play in the paint at the next level while having the range to step out and hit threes. I’m not sure he should be picked over any of the Big Three, but if the Magic get ‘stuck’ with Vonleh at No. 4, they’re going to be very, very happy.”
  • SP: “Vonleh’s measurable numbers were outstanding at the Combine and the forward is skilled enough to be a stretch four in the NBA while also being big enough to contribute near the basket. Scary to think he only turns 19 in late August.”

3. K.J. McDaniels, Clemson

  • Projections: DX (26th), CF (23rd)
  • Terrence Payne: “The ACC Defensive Player of the Year has a great frame (6’11”wingspan) and athleticism. He’ll be able to defend several different positions on the perimeter.”
  • RJ: “His athleticism allows him to defend multiple positions, and he improved offensively during his time at Clemson. Not really a fan of player comparisons, but I wonder if there’s some Kawhi Leonard-like potential here.”

4. Cleanthony Early, Wichita State

  • Projections: DX (33rd), CF (22nd)
  • SP: “In the epic Round of 32 loss to Kentucky in the 2014 NCAA Tournament, Early looked like the best player on the floor in a game full of future pros. Obviously, he’s older and more experienced than those young Kentucky prospects, but he’s steadily improved his two seasons under Gregg Marshall. Early’s also deceptively good as a catch-and-shoot wing (50 percent from left corner, 42 percent from right wing last season) and finishes through contact at the rim.”
  • RJ: “We all saw Early perform very well for two years at Wichita State. Tough player, athletic and a solid skill set.”
Shabazz Napier

5. Shabazz Napier, UConn

  • Projections: DX (24th), CF (26th)
  • TP: So he’s undersized, and not very athletic for an NBA-level point guard. Despite those shortcomings, score and run a team. He’d be a great addition to any locker room.”
  • RJ: “Late first round has been the projection I’ve seen most often, and that’s low given his ability to score, distribute and lead. Some perennial playoff team will get a steal as a result.”
  • RD: “Napier can run a team, he’s willing to distribute the ball, he can score in pick-and-roll situations, he’s got three-point range and he can defend. He might be a career backup, but I think he’ll have a 10-year NBA career.”

6. T.J. Warren, N.C. State

  • Projections: DX (17th), CF (18th)
  • RD: “He gets buckets, and he’ll be able to do that at the next level.”
  • RJ: “Love his ability to score in a variety of ways, and he’ll have cleaner opportunities at the pro level given the spacing and his likely winding up on a team that already has bonafide scoring options given where he’s projected to go.”

7. Kyle Anderson, UCLA

  • Projections: DX (25th), CF (30th)
  • RD: “I don’t know who he guards at the next level. I don’t know what position he plays. In fact, I’m not even sure what kind of system he would fit well within. All I know is that he’s as unique of a talent as I’ve seen at the college level, and while his athleticism leaves much to be desired, Slo-Mo does so many things well that I have a hard time seeing teams not get value out of him at the end of the first round.”

8. Elfrid Payton, Louisiana-Lafayette

  • Projections: DX (20th), CF (12th)
  • TP: “The late bloomer has emerged as a serious prospect with a stint last summer with USA basketball, and a march to the NCAA tournament this past season. Payton can create for himself and others. He’ll also be 20 for another eight months.”

Report: Indiana’s Noah Vonleh to enter the NBA Draft

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Noah Vonleh will forego his final three years of eligibility and enter the NBA Draft, according to a report from Gary Parrish of

Vonleh was a top ten recruit entering the season and performed like it for much of the year. He finished the season averaging 11.3 points and 9.0 boards while shooting 45.5% from three, but Indiana’s season ended with a first round exit in the Big Ten tournament.

MORE: The entire list of players entering the 2014 NBA Draft

Vonleh is a 6-foot-10, 240 pound post player with three-point range. He’s a terrific rebounder and fairly athletic for a kid with his kind of size and strength. He’s projected as a consensus top ten pick at this point, and much of that has to do with the fact that he won’t turn 19 until late-August.

Report: Indiana freshman Noah Vonleh considering declaring for the NBA draft

Noah Vonleh
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NBA executives are salivating over the potential class in the upcoming draft. One of those prized prospects is Indiana freshman big man Noah Vonleh.

According to a report from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, the Indiana forward is leaning toward heading to the NBA rather than return for a sophomore season.

The 6-foot-10 Vonleh is projected as a lottery pick, currently slotted as the seventh overall pick by DraftExpress. His draft stock is built on his potential though he had a productive freshman campaign, being named Big Ten Freshman of the Year, averaging 11.3 points and 9.0 rebounds per game this season.

One NBA general manager told Wojnarowski, “He’ll spend a lot of time in the D-League next year.”

Vonleh could always return to Indiana next season. Tom Crean will have several key returners such as Yogi Ferrell, Troy Williams, Stanford Robinson and Jeremy Hollowell back for the 2014-2015 season. He also brings in a trio of 3-point shooting commits.

Vonleh will have until April 27 to declare for the NBA draft.

Tyler Ennis, Jabari Parker among nine on midseason Tisdale Award list

Syracuse Tyler Ennis
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One day after releasing its midseason list for the Oscar Robertson Award, which is given to the best player in college basketball, the United State Basketball Writers Association released its midseason list for the Wayman Tisdale Award. The Tisdale Award is annually give to the nation’s best freshman as voted upon by members of the USBWA.

The list is only nine players deep, with six of the players also making yesterday’s Robertson Award list. Here’s the list, with the players on both the Robertson and Tisdale award lists in italics:

  • Joel Embiid, Kansas
  • Tyler Ennis, Syracuse
  • Aaron Gordon, Arizona
  • Jordan Mickey, LSU
  • Jabari Parker, Duke
  • Julius Randle, Kentucky
  • Noah Vonleh, Indiana
  • Andrew Wiggins, Kansas
  • James Young, Kentucky

The SEC claims the most representatives on the list with three players being named, and Kentucky is one of two programs with multiple players listed with Kansas being the other. Embiid’s play of late has been universally praised and with good reason, as he’s one of the reasons why the Jayhawks once again look to be the class of the Big 12 after navigating a brutal non-conference slate with Wiggins being another.

But the two freshmen who have enjoyed the most team success thus far are Ennis and Gordon, with both having prominent roles on teams that are still undefeated and sitting atop the national polls.

Gary Harris leads Michigan State to win over Indiana

Gary Harris

For the first 30 minutes or so over the game, Indiana played like a team who was hungrier and wanted to win more than Michigan State. Playing shorthanded without Will Sheehey and coming off of a loss to Northwestern over the weekend, the Hoosiers figured to stand little chance against the No. 3 team in the country — even with the Spartans playing without Adreian Payne for the fourth straight game — yet, they eventually succumbed, 71-66.

For the first half, it was your typical Big Ten game that many are so used to watching — reminiscent more of a boxing match between two heavyweights than a track meet. Without Payne in the middle, Indiana delivered more blows with freshman Noah Vonleh dropping in nine points and six rebounds in the opening half.

The game was an eyesore, but the Hoosiers couldn’t care less about that. They led 28-27 in a game they really had to have.

They seemed to be outplaying Michigan State: getting to more loose balls, closing out on the defensive end better, and were simply tougher — something very difficult to do against a Tom Izzo team. This carried over to the second half, but then the bucket closed up and the Spartans took advantage.

After a Troy Williams layup made it 46-41 Indiana, Michigan State scored 11 points in an 81 second span to take a 52-48 lead; they wouldn’t trail the rest of the way.

Vonleh was terrific tonight, but Indiana didn’t feature him nearly as much as they should have. He had a double-double (13 and 13), but only took eight shots. The Hoosiers let the game get away from them midway through the second half when they didn’t get settled on offense, rushed shots, and didn’t go inside to Vonleh.

Indiana’s failures during this stretch aside, Gary Harris was tremendous. He stepped up in a big way in Payne’s absence. The sophomore had 24 points, 20 of which came in the second half.

On the broadcast, ESPN’s Mike Tirico asked his partner, Dan Dakich, whether Michigan State had an “igniter” — a player who could be depended on each and every night to light a fire under his teammates. Do the Spartans have a player of this sort? More importantly, do they need one?

Tonight, Harris was that player. To go along with this scoring output, he was a menace on the defensive end with five steals.

In all, there were 32 turnovers between the teams, 18 of which were committed by the Hoosiers. Taking care of the basketball has been an issue for Indiana all season, and they weren’t about to upset Michigan State tonight with 18 turnovers.

Michigan State’s next game comes at home against their rival Michigan on Saturday — a game that is shaping up to be the weekend’s best.