Rivals.com, Eric Bossi, July 16th 2012
Noah Vonleh, 6-8 PF, New Hampton (N.H.) Prep
A combo forward who has inside and outside skill, Vonleh stood out at LeBron and the Adidas Invitational. He’s a high volume rebounder on both ends who can now shoot the three-pointer, attack off the dribble or operate with his back to the basket. He more than backed up his No. 3 ranking in the class of 2014.
Whether viewing action on the hardwood, or a set of basketball recruit rankings, it does not take long to obtain a fix on Noah Vonleh. The 6'9 self-described "Point-Forward" out of the Class of 2014, while in action is nothing short of eye-catching. Recognized nationally as a top 5 talent ('14), Vonleh appears devoid of the trappings/corruptions oft plaguing the landscape of high school athletics. Quick to self-critique, and by all accounts, highly coachable, NCAA blue-bloods have already set their collective sights on the high-level recruit. Two seasons from graduation, Vonleh has long since grown accustom to the spotlight aimed by the likes of Rivals, Scout, CBSSports, and ESPN. With the hype surrounding his game, can the 6'9 junior possibly scale this prodigious mountain of expectation?
AREAS OF OPPORTUNITYON THE RECRUITING FRONT
Vonleh’s silky-smooth play belies his explosive athletic ability. The young man remains “above the rim” on his way back down. Blessed with a recently measured wingspan of 7’3, Vonleh couples length and bounce in a combination few can touch, and fewer can defend. Active without the ball and possessing a quick second bounce, Vonleh is a high-level rebounder and dominates the putback game. Most impressive may be the handles Vonleh routinely displays. It is not a stretch to project the nightmarish match-up a still growing Vonleh poses as he brings the ball upcourt and facilitates the offense. His above the rim game resembles that of ’12 5-star Norvel Pelle
, and his ballhandling approaches that of 6’8 ’12 5-star Winston Shepard
. There remains a distinct possibility the 5-star forward grows another 1-2 inches, and should he hit 6’10+, comparisons to OKC’s Kevin Durant
will abound. Although somewhat slight of build (220lbs), Vonleh plays and finishes through contact. Not yet 17, it is reasonable to project an additional 15-20lbs to his current weight, and the added strength may render him all but unguardable. Rare is the big man comfortable starting his dribble outside the arc and driving his defender to the rack. Rarer yet is the big man whom can defend such a dribble-drive. Vonleh routinely creates his own shot and invites/forces his defender to venture outside the lane. He will shoot from 3 and carries a still developing midrange game. Only the next-world talent of Andrew Wiggins
prevents my projecting Vonleh as the future #1 recruit in the Class of 2014. That being said, Vonleh carries the game and attitude necessary to provide Wiggins competition for the top spot.
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AREAS OF OPPORTUNITY
As mentioned, Vonleh’s midrange game is “still developing”. He tends to extend his hands a fair distance in front of his body when shooting, and appears to “push” the ball from distance. The release is reasonably quick, but the motion appears difficult to repeat. On occasion Vonleh will also allow his dribble to extend forward which may lead to steal attempts and turnovers. He appears more comfortable and fluid finishing with his right hand, but the left is no lost cause. As I review these items, I do remain cognizant the man is 6’9, and at this point I am all but splitting hairs. On the defensive game, as is the game with many exceptional leapers, Vonleh has room to improve his shot-blocking technique. Unlike the more dialed-in technique of ’13 4-star PF Jordan Bell
and ’13 5-star PF Marcus Lee
, on follow-through, Vonleh’s arm swings forward (into the shot taker). This lends to early foul trouble and can limit negatively impact his minutes. Asked to list his targeted areas of improvement, Vonleh provided “I want to continue to improve in everything because you can never stop getting better. I want to continue getting better at ball handling, shooting, defense, post moves, and develop a mid range game.” As future teammates and coaches grin ear to ear, future opponents and defenders are left to ponder the implications of an improved Noah Vonleh.
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Should the evaluation not make clear my thoughts on the game of Noah Vonleh, I am a huge fan. I do not haphazardly invoke the names of Kevin Garnett and Kevin Durant, but few are the players possessing the skillset of the ’14 Power forward. His bounce and post/putback game alone, place Vonleh among the elite high school hoopers. Taking into account his handles, dribble/drive, and developing long-range game, I start to run out of superlatives. At the high school level, he should provide (in his sleep) 20+ points and 12+ rebounds, and dominate the game at each end of the court. As he stands today, Vonleh can step on any D1 court in the country and quickly prove among the NCAA’s elite. Should he grow to 6’10, fill out to 235-245lbs, and tighten up a handful of techniques, Vonleh projects (should he choose) as a “one and done” with NBA Draft Lottery considerations. My guess is John Calipari (Kentucky) and Rick Pitino (Louisville) eventually square off in pursuit of his collegiate commitment. No visible ceiling for the 6’9 Vonleh, and given his humility and desire to improve, he appears well-positioned to make the most of undeniable talent and opportunity.
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ON THE RECRUITING FRONT
Offers: Arizona, Boston College, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Kansas, Marquette, North Carolina, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Providence, Syracuse, and UCLA.
Asked to provide insight into his recruitment, Vonleh replied:
Everyone is recruiting me pretty even right now . I would have to say Indiana , Ohio state , UNC are pushing the hardest as of now but still no favorites or front runners .
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