IU men’s basketball freshman forward Noah Vonleh was added last week to the 2014 Integris Wayman Tisdale Award Midseason Watch List, which honors the country’s top freshman. The list named eight other players, including Duke’s Jabari Parker, Kansas’ Joel Embiid and Arizona’s Aaron Gordon.
Vonleh scored four points and pulled down 14 rebounds in a 56-46 win Sunday against Illinois.
It was Vonleh’s third straight game of 12 rebounds or more. He leads the Big Ten in rebounding with 9.6 per game.
He is also averaging an even 12 points per game on the year, and has accumulated nine double-doubles in 20 games.
Vonleh is getting attention on a national scale, but he is receiving even more compared to his peers in the Big Ten.
Vonleh has earned the Big Ten Freshman of the Week award six times, more than any other freshman in the conference.
Below are four other Big Ten freshman who have played well this season, and who could possibly challenge Vonleh for Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
Derrick Walton Jr., guard, Michigan
Walton Jr. is the most recent recipient of the Big Ten Freshman of the Week award, coming off a 19-point and four-assist output against Michigan State. He is averaging 8.3 points and 2.7 assists per game this season. With Michigan’s array of scoring options, Walton Jr. isn’t asked to do a whole lot on the offensive end, and he takes under six shots per game. Still, his ability to lead the Michigan offense has the Wolverines on a nine-game winning streak, with consecutive wins against three top-10 teams.
Zak Irvin, guard, Michigan
Irvin has won the award twice, and he shared it with Vonleh one of those times. The freshman from Fishers, Ind. averages 6.7 points in 16.3 minutes of action per game. Like Walton Jr., Irvin isn’t asked to do too much offensively — having Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III will do that for a team — and most of his offensive game centers around his 3-point shooting. Irvin takes a few more than four 3-pointers per game, making 40 percent of them.
Bryson Scott, guard, Purdue
Scott, like Irvin, has also won Big Ten Freshman of the Week two times. The Fort Wayne, Ind. native averages 7.5 points and 1.5 assists per game for the Boilermakers. Early in the season, Scott scored in double figures in five games straight. His best performance of the season came against then-No. 5 Oklahoma State, when he scored 18 points in a near upset of the Cowboys. Scott’s level of play has tapered off in the Big Ten, however. In seven conference games, he is averaging just over three points per game.
Nigel Hayes, forward, Wisconsin
Hayes rounds out the list of freshmen to win the award, and joins both Irvin and Scott as freshmen who have won the award twice. The Ohio native is listed at 6-foot-7 and 250 pounds, easily outweighing most upperclassmen in the Big Ten at his position. Hayes is averaging 6.8 points and 2.5 rebounds in 15.9 minutes per game. Though he’s taking only 4.3 shots per game, Hayes shoots 52.3 percent from the field. In conference play, Hayes is averaging more than nine points per game, including a 19-point outburst against Northwestern.
— John Bauernfeind