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.
Despite much conventional wisdom that Nerlens Noel will land at Kentucky to replace Anthony Davis, the Georgetown Hoyas are in a strong position with the 6-foot-10 shot-blocker, multiple sources told SNY.tv.
“I don’t know why everyone’s saying Kentucky, it’s definitely premature I can guarantee you,” one source said.
“Georgetown is way deeper than people give them credit for.”
Noel is down to Kentucky, Georgetown and Syracuse and will announce April 11 on ESPN, along with Shabazz Muhammad.
“He’s absolutely still in the decision-making process,” the source told SNY.tv of Noel. “He’s torn.”
Noel just returned from competing in the All-American Championship in New Orleans, where he was watched by none other than John Thompson Jr., who purchased a ticket to watch the game.
You can bet he didn’t do that unless he thought the Hoyas had a chance.
The Hoyas have a long tradition of successful big men dating from Patrick Ewing and Dikembe Mutombo to Alonzo Mourning and now Roy Hibbert, Greg Monroe, Jeff Green and Henry Sims.
The Georgetown offense runs through its big man and those around Noel believe he could facilitate from the high post by passing and distributing.
“He’s a great passer and doesn’t make mistakes,” one source said.
“With Georgetown, I would’ve been crazy not to really give them a look with all the history they’ve had with big men and the development that I could get there,” Noel wrote Wednesday on his ESPN.com blog.
His mother also visited Georgetown with him, while she did not go on the Syracuse visit.
Kentucky, of course, is coming off winning the national championship Monday night and Noel said that certainly impacts his decision-making.
“I’d definitely say it makes me think about Kentucky more, and with them winning with all of those freshmen was very attractive,” Noel wrote on ESPN.com. “Just seeing that it doesn’t matter how young you are, you can win a national title.
“I talked to (Kentucky assistant) coach Orlando (Antigua) after they won and he was really happy, of course. He said that all he could think about was me being a part of something like that next season.
“I wouldn’t say that all of that stuff gives Kentucky an advantage though. It’s just something I think about a lot.”
Moments after the national championship game ended Monday night, Antigua said he and head coach John Calipari would have to immediately turn their attention to recruiting, considering they could lose their entire starting five to the NBA.
“We gotta get back,” Antigua told SNY.tv. “We got the spring coming up here in a couple days so no rest for the weary. We gotta start looking at some of the kids and getting ready for the next class.”
Noel, Muhammad and Bennett will all play this weekend in the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland, Ore.
Kentucky is involved with all of them and ideally (from their perspective) would land at least two to replace the departing group. (For the latest on Bennett, read this entry.)
Syracuse remains the other option for Noel.
“With Syracuse, they’ve been on me the longest of the three schools on my list,” he told ESPN.com. “That factors in heavy with me.”
Interestingly, Noel said he would like to play with Muhammad, but they haven’t spoken about the process.
“Me and Shabazz Muhammad are deciding at the same time on ESPN so that should be pretty cool,” he wrote on ESPN.com. “It’s definitely just a coincidence because me and Shabazz have never even talked about schools or anything like that.
“I would love to play with him in college though, but we’ve never talked about that and he’s got to do what’s best for him like I’ve got to do what’s best for me.
“I will say that one of the biggest factors in my decision will be who will be there on the team when I get there because my No. 1 goal is to win a national title. ”
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.