At 6-foot-8 and 220 pounds, New Hampton School's Noah Vonleh looks every bit the part of a power forward. But when you study his skill set and see the performances he’s able to put together, you’re left with the impression that this is an elite small forward prospect who will be a matchup advantage for years to come.
Vonleh established himself as an elite prospect in the Class of 2014 due in large part to his offensive versatility, which is his No. 1 strength. Now that he has reclassified to the 2013 class, the fact that he has already demonstrated that he can hit the open 3-point shot and has shown how effective he is in any pick-and-pop actions, will make him a hot commodity immediately. Perhaps his greatest asset is putting the ball on the floor and slashing to the rim. You put a like-sized defender or a smaller guy on him and he takes him to the elbow and begins to operate his face-up game or he makes a flex cut to the basket and now it's a layup. He’s a guy you want to move around on offense and take advantage of his various skills: shooting, ball handling, and at times, passing and facilitating for others.
He grew up playing in the paint because of his height but he has since slowly migrated to the perimeter, which helps him on defense where he is blossoming into an emerging shot blocker. Again, his versatility shines through on D as he can block a shot and run the floor and finish with a monstrous dunk or grab the rebound and lead the break himself. He uses his size and athletic ability to be a game-changer on the glass, especially on the offensive end because he knows he can get second chance points.
Right now he’s comfortable guarding from 12 feet in, but he has great potential to be an impact defender with the ability to guard multiple spots on the floor. He has to improve his footwork to lock down perimeter players -- the ability to chase down shooters off screening action is a glaring weakness -- but that will be part of his growing process as a player.
Another special quality about Vonleh is that he can play at different speeds, a facet of the game most young players struggle with at this level. You can put him in transition sequences and he can finish at the rim or protect it on defense. And when the game slows down, he can execute set plays effectively.
He’s already a hard matchup but when he brings the intensity to the floor, he’s a dominating factor. That much was apparent at the Adidas Invitational, where he put up several double-doubles and had some 20-point games.
What will his reclassifying do to his recruiting?
Well, it will expedite the process with schools hoping to lure him on campus quickly for an official visit. It most likely takes him out of the running for the November early signing period as he will want to do his due diligence in finding the right fit for his special talents. This early decision should also put him in play for the McDonald’s All-American Game as well.
It’s also worth noting that often when an elite kid moves up to a higher class they usually don’t maintain that top-10 status. But Vonleh hasn't just played like an elite prospect in his class, he's performed like a top-10 guy in the nation period.
It just goes to show how much potential he really has.