Nerlens Noel, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, is headed to Kentucky
“I’ll be taking my talents for college to play at the University of…” the 6-foot-10 Noel said on ESPNU before revealing a “UK” shaved into the back of his hightop fade.
“I just thought it was the best fit for me, personally. I talked to my mom. She liked it as well. She liked all three of the schools, but when it came down to it she liked Kentucky. She met both Coach Orlando [Antigua] and Coach [John] Calipari….She thought it was the best fit for me and I did, too.”
Noel, who picked the reigning NCAA champs over Georgetown and Syracuse, is arguably a better shot-blocker, but not offensive player, than Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis, the presumptive No. 1 pick in this year’s NBA Draft.
Though the Wildcats missed out earlier in the night on 6-6 wing Shabazz Muhammad after he picked UCLA, Noel will join an impressive class that includes wing Archie Goodwin, forward Alex Poythress and big man Willie Cauley. Kentucky also has N.C. State point guard Ryan Harrow coming in.
For the fourth year in a row, ESPN.com ranks Kentucky as the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation.
“Obviously, he’s a dynamic player on defense,” Goodwin told ESPNU. “Has a lot of great athletic ability, long arms, great talent on defense and also a great offensive player. He just brings a lot to the table the way he works and the way he blocks shots. He’s another Anthony Davis in my eyes because he doesn’t need offense to make an impact on the game. He can impact it on defense just as well as on offense.”
Noel, who attends The Tilton (N.H.) school, said Kentucky’s win in the NCAA championship game was a key factor in his decision.
“They was always in the mix, but watching that game it did factor in, just seeing what they were able to do with the young players that they had,” Noel said. “It did factor in quite a bit. It really opened my eyes.”
Poythress told the camera: “We’re coming for a repeat. We’re coming for it again next year…We’re going hard, we’re gonna go at it, we’re gonna try to win another championship.”
After Noel reclassified to 2012 from 2013, DraftExpress.com updated its 2013 Mock Draft to include Noel as the No. 1 overall pick.
Noel was born April 10, 1994. He turns 18 in April and will be 19 by the time of the 2013 NBA Draft.
“Sure he would be a lottery pick [in the draft] because they draft entirely on potential,” longtime New York recruiting expert Tom Konchalski said. “He’s gotta get stronger and do a lot of things, but he certainly would be” a lottery pick.