Kentucky Freshman Star Nerlens Noel Cleared by NCAAPosted by KAlmekinder on October 17th, 2012
Kentucky freshman center Nerlens Noel has been cleared by the NCAA to compete athletically in college basketball. The heralded Massachusetts big man enrolled in Lexington earlier this fall without any problems, but an ongoing investigation by the NCAA about payments for unofficial visits to other universities during the recruitment process has kept Noel, Kentucky, and Wildcat fans anxious about the investigation result leading up to the team’s first regular season matchup with Maryland on November 9. Earlier today, Kentucky head coach John Calipari visited the ESPN campus in Bristol, Connecticut, to promote the Kentucky All-Access series that debuted tonight on ESPN. Calipari was asked about Noel’s eligibility and stated quite clearly, “He’s been cleared to practice and cleared to play games. Everything’s good to go.”
Wildcat fans can breathe easy now knowing that the next-in-line UK shot-blocker will officially don the blue and white this season. The high accolades set by Anthony Davis last season will make many fans across the country expect Noel to become a carbon-copy of last year’s NPOY, but both players are drastically different: Davis quickly learned his rejection technique in a few years only because of his growth spurt in high school, while Noel has mastered this craft throughout his many years manning the post in the sport. Davis was a much more polished offensive player facing the rim, and conversely, Noel needs to quickly improve on his game away from the basket. Regardless of their differences, Noel will be a truly amazing player to watch as the season progresses as well as a great asset to this year’s Kentucky squad along with some other high caliber freshmen such as Alex Poythress, Willie Cauley-Stein, and Archie Goodwin.
Noel is likely to be the starter at center for the Wildcats but many across the Bluegrass State think Noel and Cauley-Stein could work as a tandem, a revival of the early 1980s Kentucky “Twin Towers” offense featuring Sam Bowie and Melvin Turpin. Those around the team think not only that both players could mesh but that Cauley-Stein is, in fact, further along than Noel in his progress. Before Big Blue Madness, Calipari’s statements alone regarding Cauley-Stein’s quick improvement has catapulted the young seven-footer into NBADraft.net’s 2013 NBAMock Draft first round. If Big Blue Madness was any indication of Cauley-Stein’s progress, his poster-worthy dunk over Noel gave the Wildcat faithful a glimpse of his potential for this season. Noel’s progress will come throughout the season but the first week of practice is way too early to make any declarations one way or another. Regardless, Nerlens Noel and Willie Cauley-Stein will give the Wildcats a fearful two-headed frontcourt on both ends of the floor.