Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel has been cleared by the NCAA and will be eligible to play for the Wildcats to start the 2012-13 season, John Calipari first told ESPN and other outlets have now confirmed.
Noel, considered by many to be the top recruit from the high school class of 2012, had been the subject of an ongoing investigation into his initial eligibility and issues concerning his amateur status.
For Calipari and the reigning national champions, this secures perhaps the most important part of their plan for a second straight NCAA championship.
Though Calipari has widely denied similarities, it is likely that Noel will work to fill the same role that 2012 No. 1 overall NBA draft pick Anthony Davis did for the Wildcats last season—a shot-blocking presence and anchor of the Kentucky defense.
After reclassifying from the Class of 2013 to the Class of 2012, Noel averaged 12.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3.9 blocks per game as a senior.
The Wildcats begin their season on Nov. 9 at the brand new Barclays Center in Brooklyn against Maryland. Noel is expected to be in uniform for that contest.