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April 4, 2013

Vonleh talks McDonald's experience

CHICAGO - Noah Vonleh didn't get a lot of playing time in Wednesday's McDonald's All-American Game, but he did show one of his biggest attributes.

The Indiana-bound 6-foot-9 forward had six rebounds in 11 minutes, tying 6-foot-9 Florida recruit Chris Walker for the second most on the East squad in its 110-99 loss to the West. Six-foot-9 Kentucky recruit Julius Randle had seven rebounds in 22 minutes to lead the East. Four of Vonleh's rebounds came on the offensive end.

"I love rebounding," Vonleh said after the game. "When I rebound, I get to push the ball up the court, which I also like to do. That's one of the reasons I love rebounding."

Vonleh averaged 11.8 rebounds as a senior at The New Hampton (N.H.) School, and that is one of his biggest strengths entering college, in addition to his incredible versatility.

Vonleh is the only 2013 recruit headed to the Big Ten who was selected for the McDonald's All-American Game.

He showed his rebounding ability on several plays during the game.

Early on, Vonleh grabbed a rebound in traffic on a missed fast break layup from Anthony Barber and drew a foul. On the East's next possession, Vonleh tipped in a missed layup by Isaiah Hicks.

The one issue that did crop up for Vonleh was free throw shooting. He went 1-for-6 from the line.

In the second half, Vonleh had another offensive rebound, drawing a foul on Kentucky-bound Marcus Lee. Vonleh also got a nice hustle-play deflection - something Tom Crean loves - when he tipped away a bounce pass while defending a fast break.

Vonleh had a couple possessions when he had a chance to handle the ball out on the perimeter. He had one missed step-back jumper. For the most part, though, Vonleh rebounded, defended as much as anyone in such a game, and didn't force anything.

The McDonald's practices were more competitive than the game.

"There's a lot of NBA scouts there watching us. Everyone is competing hard," Vonleh said. "If you want to get on that board, you have to showcase your skills."

It's also worth noting that Vonleh is the second youngest of the 2013 McDonald's All-Americans, younger than all but Arizona-bound Aaron Gordon. Vonleh, who was in the 2014 class but switched back to his natural class of 2013, was born on Aug. 24, 1995.

Vonleh didn't get to show many of his abilities in the game, other than rebounding and a little of his ballhandling. He did show how he's learning to use his body - he has strong legs for his age - in getting position for rebounds, particularly on the offensive end. He has played every postion on the floor in AAU and high school but will be a forward at Indiana.

His quickness getting up and down the court was evident at times, as was his strength, quickness off the floor and strong hands in going for rebounds.

The McDonald's All-American Game is a showcase event, usually dominated by guards and plenty of highlight-film dunk attempts, so there isn't too much scouting to take from the event. It's essentially a reward for an outstanding high school season.

For a little perspective, only two players didn't make a field goal in last year's McDonald's All-American Game, Marcus Smart and Gary Harris. Smart scored one point, going 0-for-4 from the field. Harris scored two points on free throws. Smart was the Big 12 Player of the Year this season, and Harris was Big Ten Freshman of the Year.



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