Nerlens Noel Not Worried About Being No. 1 Pick | Zagsblog
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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.
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Thursday / March 23.
  • Nerlens Noel Not Worried About Being No. 1 Pick

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    Nerlens Noel is expected to be the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft next month, but he says he’s not thinking about that too much at this point.

    “I really don’t pay too much attention to that,” the 6-foot-10 Noel said Monday on ESPN’s “Mike & Mike.” “My main focus is just rehabbing and working hard down there in Birmingham, Ala….and just really staying focused on that.

    “I’m not too much into the high draft picks and stuff. That’s really my main focus, is getting back on the court.”

    Noel had ACL surgery in March after tearing it during a February game against Florida.

    Noel, who averaged 10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.4 blocks as a freshman at Kentucky, will attend the Chicago Pre-Draft Camp this week but only to interview with teams.

    “I will definitely just be taking some interviews, shooting some free throws at the combine, being interactive with some of the teams,” Noel said. “Just showing my personality and being able to speak with them and show them what I’m about.”

    Both Iman Shumpert and Derrick Rose tore their ACLs on the same day in April 2012. Shumpert came back in January and has played very well as of late in the playoffs with the Knicks, while Rose has not yet returned with the Bulls.

    Asked how he would approach his comeback, Noel said, “I definitely know being mentally strong is a big part in this injury and from Day 1 I made sure that was something I would focus in on because that’s a big part. When I get cleared to play I will definitely look to play but you gotta definitely be there mentally just as much as physically.”

    Asked if he would take it slow when he does come back, Noel said: “Yeah, definitely you gotta be careful with this injury because it takes a while to come back. You don’t want to blow that away just wanting to get back.

    “You gotta take your time with it and come back just as strong as before.”

    Still, he admitted that watching the physical Bulls-Heat series has gotten him “amped up.”

    “Oh yeah, that gets me amped,” he said. “I was watching the game the other night. I started doing pushups. I can’t wait.”


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    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.