We thought we saw a once-in-a-decade season from Anthony Davis this year with Kentucky, but here’s a scary thought: we could see a performance equally (if not more dominating) next season from Nerlens Noel.
Noel is the much-talked-about 6-10, 215-pound center from Everett, Mass., who is set to make his college decision on April 11, choosing between Syracuse, Georgetown, and Kentucky.
This past season, some went so far as to call him the best shot-blocker not currently wearing an NBA jersey (Davis included) and he seems to be destined to be a one-and-done.
In combination with his long arms and enormous wingspan, Noel has the timing on his blocked shots that is key to success at the college and NBA level. Much like Davis, he runs the floor well and is dangerous in transition and playing above the rim.
With no inside information, Kentucky would seem like a favorable landing spot for Noel, considering coach John Calipari’s ability to present the Anthony Davis case study and sell the idea of a solid one-year career in college and being a ready-made package for the NBA.
Kentucky will presumably have to reload in 2012-13, once the frontcourt of Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Terrence Jones do what they are expected to do and leave for the NBA, but Noel would be able to step in and put the Wildcats in position for another Top 10 season.
One of the reasons Kentucky was so successful this past year was their ability and willingness to play defense, which Noel will bring from his first day on campus. That defensive intensity sparked the transition game, where less than a handful of teams could match up with the athletes on that Wildcat roster.
Noel would bring that same kind of defense-to-offense sparkplug, as his ability to block shots would spur Kentucky’s athletic transition game.
We’ll have to see how Calipari’s recruiting class shakes out in the coming weeks, but if he can catch the big fish, Noel, all should follow from there.
Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_