INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s roster will look very different next season.
On Monday, coach Tom Crean announced two players would transfer to other schools — just hours after word leaked that star freshman Noah Vonleh was headed to the NBA.
Crean issued a news release that said forward Austin Etherington, a redshirt sophomore, and forward Jeremy Hollowell, a sophomore, were looking for new schools.
The bigger blow would be losing Vonleh, the Big Ten freshman of the year. Crean has not yet confirmed that decision, first reported by CBSSports.com. The Indianapolis Star later cited Vonleh’s mother as confirming it.
The move would hardly be a surprise.
Vonleh came to Indiana as the prize recruit in last year’s highly touted freshman class, and the 6-foot-10, 240-pound Massachusetts native didn’t disappoint. He won the Big Ten’s rebounding title, developed a 3-point shot and used his versatility to routinely create matchup problems for opponents.
He might have put up even bigger numbers had he stayed healthy. Crean said Vonleh was fighting inflammation in his left foot for a prolonged period before he finally sat out two March games. When Vonleh returned for the final two games of the season, he wasn’t the same.
At Michigan, Vonleh came off the bench and wound up going 2 of 5 from the field with seven points and eight rebounds. It was the only time in 30 appearances he did not start.
In what proved to be the season-ending Big Ten tournament quarterfinal loss, Vonleh was 3 of 9 from the field and finished with six points, five rebounds and two blocks. Afterward, he wouldn’t discuss his future plans.
But the injury didn’t change his draft stock.
Almost from the moment the season began, Vonleh was projected as a lottery pick. He could become be the third Indiana underclassman in two drafts to go in the top 10. Victor Oladipo, then a junior, was taken No. 2 overall by Orlando last summer. Cody Zeller, then a sophomore, went No. 4 to Charlotte.
Crean also must rebuild without Hollowell, who started this season as a starter, and Etherington, who became a steadying influence for the young Hoosiers.
Hollowell’s rocky career in Bloomington included sitting out three games last season after his family contacted the school about “compliance issues.” He was then reinstated and finished the season averaging 2.8 points and 2.1 rebounds in 9.7 minutes.
This year, Hollowell sat out three more games and lost his starting job, finishing with averages of 5.7 points and 3.5 rebounds.
“I have learned a lot from my time at Indiana,” Hollowell said in a statement. “My time here has made me much stronger as a person. Things don’t always go as planned and I am looking forward to getting a fresh start and I hope to make the most of that opportunity.”
The former Indiana high school All-Star thanked Crean, the coaching staff and the Hoosiers fans for their support in a statement.
Etherington’s career was marred by a fractured left kneecap in December 2012 that cost him the final 29 games of the season. This season, he started six of 30 games, averaging 2.0 points and 1.6 rebounds. And if graduates this spring, as expected, he wouldn’t have to sit out at a new school. The speculation is that he will wind up at Indiana State where his younger brother, Alex, is a freshman.
“Austin told me this past Saturday night that he would like to take advantage of graduating in May and continue to play by relocating to another University,” Crean said. “He is going to be a three-year graduate and wants an opportunity to look for somewhere he can have a larger role. Even though that is his choice, we are going to miss him. He is a fine young man.”
Etherington said: “I will forever be a Hoosier at heart and will always cherish the memories and friendships I have made at IU.”
Indiana already was losing four seniors — Will Sheehey, Evan Gordon, Jeff Howard and Taylor Wayer. Freshman center Luke Fischer also left the program in December so he could play closer to home at Marquette.
It’s also unclear whether freshman forward Collin Hartman will be ready to play when fall practice starts after he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during a workout March 15.