Indiana freshman Noah Vonleh is strongly leaning toward entering the NBA draft, sources told Yahoo Sports.
NBA front office executives expect Vonleh, a 6-foot-10 forward, would be selected somewhere between Nos. 7-12 in the draft. Still, there is widespread agreement his potential far exceeds his performance and preparedness for the NBA.
Vonleh's inner circle has been engaged in dialogue with a few prominent NBA agents, especially across the past several weeks of the season, sources told Yahoo Sports. NCAA bylaws allow players, families and associates to talk with agents and still preserve their amateur eligibility.
Team executives and agents are under the impression that Vonleh, who had an inflammation in his left foot, sat out two games late in Indiana's regular season largely out of concern for his draft status.
Vonleh, who averaged 11 points and nine rebounds, was selected as the Big Ten Conference's Freshman of the Year.
Vonleh's decision is a tricky one. At Indiana and Marquette, Hoosiers coach Tom Crean has a well-established reputation for player development, turning a mid-major recruit, Victor Oladipo, into the No. 2 pick in the 2013 draft. Nevertheless, it would be difficult for Vonleh to turn down the chance to be a lottery pick and the guaranteed first NBA contract that comes with it.
Vonleh doesn't turn 19 until late August, but has shown growth in his season with the Hoosiers. Vonleh's shooting has markedly improved at Indiana, but several league executives told Yahoo Sports they have concerns about his position in the NBA, as well as a lack of assertiveness that sometimes causes him to drift through long segments of games.
"He'll spend a lot of time in the D-League next year," one NBA general manager told Yahoo Sports. "He's nowhere near ready to play, but there's no doubt he's got great potential, along with very good character."
College underclassmen have until April 27 to apply for the NBA draft and meet the early entry eligible deadline.
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