Freshmen Noah Vonleh and Troy Williams Are Already Impact Players For IndianaPosted by Walker Carey on November 16th, 2013
Walker Carey is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after Friday evening’s game in Bloomington between Indiana and Samford.
It is well known that Indiana entered the 2013-14 season in a bit of a precarious position, as it was tasked with replacing four starters from last season’s regular season Big Ten championship squad. While it was assumed that several returnees would step into larger roles, most of the outside focus was centered on the incoming freshman class that Tom Crean was bringing to Bloomington. The two crown jewels of that six member recruiting class were highly decorated forwards Noah Vonleh (Haverhill, Mass./New Hampton School) and Troy Williams (Hampton, Va./Oak Hill Academy).
Noah Vonleh came to Indiana after an illustrious prep career that was capped off with his selection to the McDonald’s All-American squad. There was so much buzz surrounding Vonleh’s arrival in Bloomington that he was named Big Ten Freshman/Newcomer of the Year by numerous publications. The young forward’s 6’10”, 240 pound frame suggests that a majority of his production would come from the post, and while Vonleh is a dynamic player there, he gained high marks from coaches on the recruiting trail for his ability to use his athleticism and be productive from anywhere on the court.
Stepping right into the starting lineup, Vonleh has lived up to expectations through his first three games as a Hoosier forward. In the season opener – a 100-72 shellacking of Chicago State – Vonleh was able to shake off the normal freshman jitters and contribute 11 points and 14 rebounds to the winning effort. Indiana was tested in its second game as it had to battle back from a second half deficit to best LIU-Brooklyn, 73-72. But even in a hotly-contested battle, Vonleh put forward another impressive performance, as he finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds. In Friday evening’s 105-59 obliteration of Samford, the freshman forward chipped in 13 points and 10 rebounds in just 18 minutes. After just three games, Vonleh has already made a mark in Indiana basketball history, as he is the only freshman in program history to record a double-double in each of his first three games.
Troy Williams has basketball in his blood, as he is the nephew of Virginia AAU pioneer Boo Williams. Along with his strong bloodlines, Williams arrived at Indiana with quite the reputation. In his senior season at basketball powerhouse Oak Hill Academy, Williams was named Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Virginia. Much like Vonleh, Williams garnered a lot of attention for his athleticism and versatility. Standing 6’7″ and gifted with the ability to handle the ball on the perimeter, Williams can often be seen as a match-up problem for the opposition.
Joining Vonleh in the starting lineup as a freshman, Williams has also been productive in his first three games as a Hoosier. He opened his career by recording 13 points in the win over Chicago State. In the hard-fought battle against LIU-Brooklyn, Williams added nine important points and utilized his superior athleticism to gather six rebounds – including three on the offensive glass. In Friday’s runaway victory over Samford, Williams continued his steady pace by contributing 10 points and a career-high eight rebounds to the winning effort.
Senior forward Will Sheehey and sophomore guard Yogi Ferrell have rightfully earned their spots as the leaders of this Indiana team due to their experience and prolonged productivity. Luckily for Indiana, it has talented players in the fold like Vonleh and Williams who can take some of the pressure off Sheehey and Ferrell, and turn in solid performances on a nightly basis. If the first three games of their careers can serve as any indication, the best is yet to come for both Vonleh and Williams – and that is something Tom Crean and the Hoosier faithful are likely more than comfortable with.