Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Nerlens Noel is planning unofficial visits to Providence, Syracuse and Kentucky in the coming weeks, but won’t be able to take any official visits until he officially becomes part of the Class of 2012.
“He has not completed the [NCAA] Clearinghouse criteria for 2012,” a source with direct knowledge of Noel’s situation told SNY.tv Monday. “That is 1,000 percent accurate.
“His transcript right now would show [Class of] 2013. He cannot officially visit anywhere. That’s not Tilton’s rule, that’s an NCAA rule.”
Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com reported that the 6-foot-10 Noel will visit Providence later this week, Wednesday or Thursday, and then Kentucky Feb. 17-18. Noel had previously said he would visit Syracuse Saturday (Feb. 11) for the UConn game.
Noel, who was in Rhode Island this weekend with Tilton for the National Prep Invitational, was at Providence briefly Sunday when the Friars lost to West Virginia, 87-84 in OT. He sat with 2012 Providence signee Kris Dunn.
Noel is friendly with both Dunn and fellow 2012 commit Ricky Ledo.
Noel is also tight with Syracuse freshman Michael Carter-Williams and will be in the house Saturday, along with St. Benedict’s Prep 2013 point guard Tyler Ennis, for the UConn game.
“I know he likes Syracuse because he’s buddies with Mike,” the source said.
Syracuse already has a 2012 center signed in DaJuan Coleman, but the source believes the two big men could co-exist.
“I think they can play together,” the source said. “Nerlens is a little more mobile. I think they can coexist with the two of them. Coleman’s a four year guy. He’s a phenom who’s leveled off.”
For the Kentucky visit, Noel would be on campus during the Ole Miss game Feb. 18.
Kentucky has three players signed for 2012, but is in the mix for Noel, Shabazz Muhammad, Anthony Bennett and others, meaning head coach John Calipari could still land his fourth straight No. 1 class, and perhaps his best ever.
Assuming Noel qualifies academically for 2012, he could be the Andre Drummond of this year. The 6-10 Drummond decided last summer to enroll in college and ended up at UConn.
“For a high-profile kid like that, I’m sure they would welcome him just like they did Andre Drummond Labor Day weekend,” the source said.
As I wrote in my column for SheridanHoops.com, Noel’s decision to reclassify to 2012 could have a profound affect on the 2013 NBA Draft. Noel could end up bring the No. 1 overall pick, ahead of Muhammad, who was previously ranked No. 1 by DraftExpress.com.
Still, Noel must go through the Tilton School’s process for reclassifying and that takes about a month from the time he initiated it in early February.
“It takes about a month,” Tilton school headmaster James Clements previously told SNY.tv during an exclusive interview. “The student has to provide a written request that has to be endorsed in writing. It goes through a review process at the academic level and then with a recommendation it would go to the administrative team of the school.”
Clements added: “I see Nerlens every day. I talk to him about it and have met with the family. They are aware of the process.”
The source described Clements as a “no-nonsense, old-school headmaster who wants things done properly.”
The source said Tilton would also likely take a dim view of Noel missing much school for a series of visits to schools.
Still, Noel has said he would also like to visit Georgetown, North Carolina and Florida.
“Our job is not necessarily to train people for the NBA,” Clements said. “It is to help graduates to be in a position where they can be admitted and be successful in college.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
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.