As far as early signing periods go, the one starting Wednesday looked like it was going to happen without many surprises. Then five-star forward Noah Vonleh decided to add a little spice to the mix.
It was just a few months ago that Vonleh switched back to his original class of 2013 from 2014. Ranked No. 7 nationally, the 6-foot-8 combo forward at New Hampton (N.H.) Prep was expected to take some time with his recruitment and then make a decision in the spring.
That all changed with a visit and a surprise late Saturday night commitment to Tom Crean and Indiana.
"I'm surprised with the timing because we had talked about him taking more than one visit," said Vonleh's coach at New Hampton Pete Hutchens. "And I thought for sure he would go to Ohio State and Georgetown. I'm not surprised he chose to go there, I'm just surpsied with the timing."
Recently, it was news that the Hoosiers were moving away from four-star center BeeJay Anya to focus all of their attention on Vonleh. But with scholarships tight and some media grousing over the Hoosiers oversign situation this past summer -- landing Vonleh puts them over by two even assuming Cody Zeller goes to the NBA and Maurice Creek returns for a fifth year -- a little extra time to find space wouldn't have hurt the Hoosiers.
Turns out that it didn't matter. Crean and his staff are so hot and got in so deep with Vonleh that they were able to lay out a clear plan for the 6-foot-8 senior and his mother during the visit.
"I'm sure the atmosphere was impressive and he had the time to spend with the team and the staff getting comfortable," said Hutchens. "If I know Noah, what stood out to him was the opportunity to watch practice. It obviously validated what he was hoping to see in terms of player development, which was huge."
Capable of playing some at both the three and the four, Vonleh is a very versatile player who can play from inside out. Indiana senior Christian Watford has been used in a similar way during his career, and that's the blueprint for where Vonleh fits in.
"They've always talked about using him in a similar role to Watford," said Hutchens. "Noah has been ultra consistent in terms of his effort and his focus and his recognition of what he needs to do to impact a practice or a game for us this year.
"Those type of day in and day out of daily habits, if he takes them to college and keeps improving, he'll be able to have an instant impact."
In the end it turned into the perfect storm for Indiana to land Vonleh earlier than anticipated. They got him and his mother on campus, presented him with a vision and proof of the role they would play, and he even has a relative on campus in cousin Tevin Coleman who plays for the football team.
Vonleh joins what is now a strong six-man class. Four-star wings Troy Williams and Stanford Robinson rank No. 37 and No. 50 in the country while three-stars Luke Fischer and Devin Davis rank No.'s 115 and 120. Three-star small forward Collin Hartman rounds out the class.
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