It was November 21, a week before Thanksgiving. The distinct chill of an autumn night hung in the air. As the people of Bloomington prepared their grocery lists, the Hoosiers got out to a 5-0 start on what seemed to be a promising 2013-14 campaign. Ahh, how little did we know at that time.
Indiana had a major letdown of a season They were 17-15, and went 7-11 in the Big Ten. But that didn't prevent freshman Noah Vonleh from establishing himself as one of the best young talents in the conference. His finest hour was on that blustery November day in Madison Square Garden, where legends are born. Vonleh's performance in their victory over Washington in NYC proved that Vonleh was worth more than the 5 stars next to his name.
Indiana routed the Huskies 102-84, and Vonleh impressed in only his 5th game in college. He logged 18 points and 9 rebounds, and was one rebound away from extending his double-double streak to 5. As you can see from the video beneath, coaches and players spoke very highly of Vonleh in his national TV debut in one of the most famous venues in basketball.
Sadly, Indiana struggled mightily throughout the rest of the season, preventing Vonleh from having many other signature moments. But outside of his performance at the Garden, I would say his finest moment at Indiana will come on Thursday when his name gets called in the 2014 NBA Draft. He didn't let Indiana's mess of a season bring his draft stock down. In fact, his name shot up draft boards throughout the season.
Although yes, team-success is important, Vonleh came into IU with one goal: get to the pros. He would have loved to make it to the NCAA Tournament this year, but I think he's just fine with his season. His transformation from top recruit to legit star to future top-5 draft pick made his short time at Indiana very special.