Nerlens Noel, arguably the top American shot-blocker not in the NBA, has reclassified to the Class of 2012, which will have profound implications not only on the 2012 spring signing period but on the 2013 NBA Draft, too.
Boston Area Basketball Club head man Leo Papile has compared Noel to Bill Russell because of his shot-blocking skills and ability to finish around the rim.
Like Russell and Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis, Noel has a knack for redirecting blocked shots so that they stay inbounds and his teammates can recover them.
“I’m ready to do it,” Noel, out of The Tilton (N.H.) School, told Dave Telep of ESPN.com in reference to reclassyifying. “It’s a short window of time to pick a school.”
The 6-foot-10 Noel told Telep he will take his first official visit to Syracuse the weekend of Feb. 11, which is when the Orange host UConn. St. Benedict’s Prep 2013 point guard Tyler Ennis will also visit Syracuse that weekend.
Noel is also considering Providence, Connecticut, Kentucky, Florida, Georgetown and North Carolina.
Kentucky is now in the mix for Noel, perhaps the top player in the updated 2012 rankings, as well as Shabazz Muhammad, the current No. 1 in the class, Anthony Bennett, Devonta Pollard, Amile Jefferson and Tony Parker.
The Wildcats could have as many as seven scholarships to give and have only three signed players — Archie Goodwin, Willie Cauley and Alex Poythress.
Kentucky coach John Calipari watched both Muhammad and Bennett Wednesday in Las Vegas, and saw Noel play last month at the Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass., when he finished with a team-high 22 points, eight rebounds and seven blocks in Tilton’s 57-53 loss to Brewster (N.H.) Academy
“It was cool,” Noel told SNY.tv by text then. “Especially for all the coaches that were in attendance.”
Tilton players Wayne Selden and Brandon “Red” Bibbstold Five Star Basketball they think Noel should play for Kentucky.
“I kind of see him going to Kentucky,” Bibbs told Five Star. “I think that would be the best place for him because the way he plays, Kentucky would be the best place for him.”
“I’m thinking I’m going to go with Kentucky for Nerlens, too,” Selden told Five Star. “I feel like he’ll fit the system right. Plus, Nerlens’ looks like he could be a one-and-done. He keeps working hard, he develops his game here, go to college and be a one-and-done.”
Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.