Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel has decided to put his name into the NBA Draft, foregoing his sophomore season. Despite his season-ending ACL tear, Noel is still widely regarded as the #1 overall pick. If that’s the case, Kentucky would have it’s 3rd #1 overall pick. Noel would join John Wall and Anthony Davis with that honor, and become the 3rd ‘Cat in 4 years to achieve the top spot in the draft.
Here is Noel’s statement after the news broke that he was leaving Kentucky:
“I have loved my time at Kentucky, but I feel that I’m ready to take the next step to the NBA,” Noel said in a statement released this morning. “I’ve learned so much here at UK and am thankful for Coach (John) Calipari, the staff and my teammates for all of their support. I especially appreciate the Big Blue Nation and all of the support, prayers and well-wishes I’ve received from them during my rehab and decision-making process. I’ll always be a Wildcat!”
Kentucky head coach John Calipari took to his Twitter account to acknowledge Noel’s departure:
I support @NerlensNoel3‘s decision to enter his name in the draft and am excited for him and his future,
The hard work and will to win he showed on the floor this year and the dedication and attitude he has shown in his rehab …
… will only be a reward for him and whatever team drafts him in June.
It’s truly a shame that Kentucky fans and the college basketball world alike did not get the chance to see Noel play a full season as a collegian athlete. I know that I am extremely thankful that he chose to come to Kentucky, and play as hard as he did wearing the blue and white. My favorite memory of Noel in a Kentucky jersey will be his 12 blocks on the road vs. Mississippi State. A crucial “must win” game for Kentucky’s NCAA Tourney hopes became a signature moment in Noel’s college career. Best of wishes to Nerlens on his continued rehab, and his future on the basketball court and in life.