Indiana Hoosiers: Why Is Noah Vonleh Playing Out of Position?

By Eric Smith
Ben Woloszyn-USA TODAY Sports

It’s no secret that Indiana Hoosiers forward Noah Vonleh is among the nation’s elite freshmen. Vonleh is averaging 12.3 points per game and 9.5 rebounds per game through the Hoosiers’ first 14 games of the season. Everyone keeps talking about how dominant he can be and how much upside he has. Some are even saying Vonleh is a first-round pick in next year’s NBA Draft if he chose to leave.

However, I think we’re just seeing the bare minimum of Vonleh as head coach Tom Crean has him playing out of position. There’s absolutely no way he should be playing center for Indiana. Vonleh is 6-foot-10, but he’s not a center. He’s 240 pounds, but built more like Kevin Durant. He’s very tall and somewhat lanky with a huge wingspan that reaches 7-foot-4.

So why use him at center? Vonleh is a power forward. He has some ball handling skills, but is not quite good enough to play small forward. He shouldn’t be posting up on the block, as I’d like to see him used more in the high post and bringing his man out of the lane like Cody Zeller or Christian Watford did. In fact, he’s comparable to Watford but is a better athlete with more skill. So why is he playing center?

Coach Crean is setting him up for failure. He thrives in the open court and is great on the offensive glass. Think how good he could be with someone not as bulky guarding him.

This is Indiana’s biggest issue right now, which contributes to all of their turnovers. They have no center. Luke Fischer was supposed to be that guy, but he transferred this week. Senior Jeff Howard isn’t the guy as he’s only 6-foot-8, and doesn’t have the skill to start in Big 10 play.

By having Vonleh play center, Indiana is really having guys play out of place. Fellow classmate Troy Williams shouldn’t be playing power forward as he’s a small forward. Will Sheehey should be the starting shooting guard, and by process of elimination, sophomore Jeremy Hollowell shouldn’t be starting.

But Crean hasn’t changed the lineup yet, and I’m afraid these guys will be playing out of position all year.

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