Every Indiana fan spent the second half of the season hoping that Noah Vonleh would play well enough to make sure the team got to the postseason - but not well enough to leave after his freshman year for the NBA. Well - Hoosier Nation didn't get either of those wishes. Indiana couldn't even make the NIT and Vonleh didn't waste much time in making his announcement of his intentions to take his talents to the next level. This presents a tremendous problem for the Hoosier program as the only big men left on the roster are Peter Jurkin (7'0") and Hanner Mosquera Perea (6'9"). Jurkin has more health issues than can be counted on both hands, so he really isn't a realistic option to play any significant minutes. Perea showed flashes of his abilities this past season, but has been anything but consistent. He also has shown a complete lack of focus and discipline off the court with his late season DUI in Bloomington. This has left the Indiana coaching staff scrambling to find a front court for next year. There was some good news on Friday night though as 7'0" center Jeremiah April, out of Arizona, committed to the Hoosiers out of no where. There are a couple other external options that have cropped up in recent days to complement now three internal options for Vonleh's replacement and I will go through both below.
Hanner Mosquera Perea (6'9")
At this point, this appears to be the most realistic of any options. Most fans do not want to hear that as Indiana is going to have one of the best backcourts in the nation next year and fans just want a no non-sense big man to complement that. Perea has shown flashes, as I mentioned above, and could really improve this offseason if he is willing to put in the work necessary to be a consistent big man in the B1G. Most people forget he was ranked as a Top 15 recruit for the majority of his high school career before falling a bit late in the process. He wasn't able to catch a ball his freshman year, but showed great strides in that area during his sophomore year. However, he was a major defensive liability and looked completely lost on offense in most situations. If he puts in the work necessary, he clearly has the talent to become a reliable player in the B1G - and that is all the Hoosier program is looking for next year given the tremendous talent in the backcourt.
Jeremiah April (7'0")
April committed to Indiana on Friday night out of absolute no where from a media perspective at least. He has shown some pretty good offensive skills this year, but the competition has been a bit questionable. He is certainly not a Peter Jurkin or Bawa type player and I think he could eventually develop into a pretty good big man. He does not need to become an All American next year (which he clearly won't) because Indiana is going to be a backcourt driven team - but he will need to eat up some space and at least pose a threat on the court both offensively and defensively. Not a lot is known yet about April, but Coach Crean has hit a lot of home runs on these out of no where recruits (and has also had his fair share of duds). We'll have to see how this story develops.
Max Hoetzel (6'8")
It was reported this week that Hoetzel has grown to 6'8" from his earlier reported height of 6'6". This is welcome news to Hoosier fans who are desperate for a big man. He is only 210 pounds though - so will likely never be the down low banger that is needed to be successful in the B1G. He does, however, have an extremely good jump shot and would be able to stretch defenses to the three point line. He is much better suited to play the role of a stretch four though than as a center, and he also will likely need a year or two to be a major factor at the B1G level. His other offers were Cal Poly, Loyola, Pacific, and San Diego - so while it is possible Coach Crean found another diamond in the rough (a la Victor Oladipo), it is also possible this kid will not be ready for a couple of seasons to play on the level that the B1G demands.
Jakeen Yates (6'10")
Yates has just come on the radar in the past week and seems like a very viable option at this point for Indiana. He has said he would like to visit both Indiana and Oklahoma State in the next two weeks and has also said his main driver will be playing time. There is no other school in the country right now that can offer more playing time for a big man than the Indiana Hoosiers. Yates is a Cody Zeller fan being from Charlotte (where Cody now plays professionally), and has talked about watching how Zeller was utilized in the Indiana scheme. He believes he could fit that role well. Yates is currently a zero star player and is obviously not ranked, but the Hoosiers are desperate and Coach Crean has proven his ability to evaluate and develop players. The reality, however, is he probably will not be anywhere near ready to contribute at a high level next year - but the Hoosiers just need big men on the roster at this point. With two more open scholarships, after the April commitment, Indiana has plenty of room to take risks on players such as Yates. The Hoosiers have not yet offered Yates, contrary to many media reports, but I have to believe he will commit if an offer is extended given the tremendous amount of playing time available.
Link Kabadyundi (7'1")
Link officially visited Nebraska on March 9th, and has also been reported associated with Indiana interest in the past month as well. He is from Montreal, Canada and has also visited Oklahoma unofficially. He was originally committed to Albany, but decided to open his recruitment earlier this year and has received heavy interest since that point from schools like Florida, SMU, and Nebraska. At this point, it seems like Nebraska is probably the school to beat, but I wouldn't count out Indiana given the playing time available. One has to wonder though how much of a project Link would be similar to Yates above. However, if Florida and Billy Donovan are involved, it has to make most Indiana fans feel comfortable that this is a risk worth taking.
As coaching changes continue to occur and fifth year players continue to announce their intention to transfer, it is possible that Indiana could become involved with several other players in the next couple of months - but as it looks today, the options above are where things stand. While none of these options are ideal, the Hoosiers will have a tremendous backcourt which should be able to cover up a lot of the deficiencies that will exist in the frontcourt. With Noah Vonleh, it could have been a Top 5 team in the country. Without Noah Vonleh - it will be interesting to see where the Hoosiers land as the pressure is going to be very ramped up on Coach Crean and company this season.