By Michael Muldoon
---- — Noah Vonleh of Haverhill, ESPN.com's No. 8 ranked senior basketball player in the country, has made a verbal commitment to Indiana University.
The announcement was made via Twitter by Mass. Rivals, his club basketball team, at 12:02 a.m. Sunday morning.
Vonleh told ESPN.com, "From Day 1, Indiana has been recruiting me the hardest. They were just letting me know how they could develop me into the player I want to be at the next level. Their academics are good, they're the No. 1 team in the country and they've got another great class coming in next year. They said next year I could come in and be one of the main guys. They're going to lose Christian Watford, and probably Zeller, so they want me to come in a be a big piece right away."
Vonleh was in Bloomington for Friday's season opener and judging by his quick decision, it must have been impressive. The sellout crowd of 17,472 for the blowout win over Bryant showered him with affection.
"As soon as I walked out near the court they started chanting, 'We want Noah,' " he told ESPN.com.
His other announced finalists were Connecticut, Georgetown, North Carolina, Ohio State and Syracuse.
It's been a whirlwind couple months for the multi-talented 6-8, 225-pound forward at New Hampton School in New Hampton, N.H.
First, on Sept. 24 he announced he would be a senior this year. He had played two years at Haverhill High then originally announced he'd be attending three years of prep school.
With the relatively late change of plans, the assumption was he'd make his announcement in the spring.
The Hoosiers, who had struggled for several years, are back. They are the consensus preseason No. 1 team in the nation. They have the nation's top player in sophomore 7-foot center Cody Zeller, but he'll likely go pro after the season.
Vonleh, who turned 17 in August, is the highest rated athlete ever from the region in a major sport.
Rob Konrad of North Andover and St. John's Prep was a second-team USA Today All-American fullback in 1994. Pitcher Jay Yennaco was chosen by the Red Sox in the third round out of Pinkerton Academy in 1995. Ethan Philpott of North Andover and Philips was taken in the third round by the Buffalo Sabres in 1993. Central Catholic's Scott Hazelton, a Somerville native, was a McDonald's Basketball All-American in 2000.
But none were wooed as intensely or rated as highly as Vonleh.