Who are you, Nerlens Noel?

The top prospect in college basketball fashions a hi-top fade Will Smith would appreciate. He can also block any shooter with the greatest of ease. Yeah, that’s Nerlens Noel’s game in a nutshell.

The 6’10” center (taller than 7’0″ if you count his hair) from Tilton School in New Hampshire intends to announce which team he will sign with Wednesday. Noel narrowed his choices down to reigning National Champion the University of Kentucky, Georgetown University, and Syracuse University. Each program seems like a logical fit. At Kentucky, he can polish his game under John Calipari‘s dribble-drive offense and fill the void Anthony Davis will leave this June. At Georgetown, he can add his name to the list of dominate centers like Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo, and Roy Hibbert to come through the Washington, D.C. school. At Syracuse, he can chill in the back of Jim Boeheim‘s zone and block any inside shooters much like Fab Melo did this season.

Noel jumped to the top spot on ESPN’s Top 100 earlier this year when he reclassified himself as a senior, making him a member of the 2012 class. He originally was a member of the class of 2012, but a left knee injury at the start of his sophomore season at Everett High, forced Noel to sit out his sophomore season. Thinking an extra year would help his college stock, he reclassified as a member of the 2013 class and transferred to Tilton, a college preporatory school which offered better academics and competition. His game continued to develop as well as his height. He grew two inches since freshman year and became more comfortable with putting the ball on the floor.

With his game ready for the next level, Noel rejoined his original class, jumping to the top of ESPNU‘s Top 100 ahead of Shabazz Muhammad, who will also announce his signing intentions on the same ESPNU special Wednesday, in the process. Noel finished his visits during March Madness, heading to D.C. to see Georgetown and Chapel Hill to check out the University of North Carolina–who fell off his list.

As you’d expect for his height, Noel does not boast the best jumper in the nation. At 215 lbs., he does not have the strongest of builds either. Despite any minuscule offensive shortcoming, its Noel’s defense that’s drove analysts to tout him as a top-3 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. Much like Boston Celtics great Bill Russell, Noel has a knack for rejecting shots and keeping the ball in play, which gives fast break opportunities to his offense. The Tilton center is also very patient in the paint, waiting for the opposing shooter to leave his feet first before stuffing him.

Noel kept the recruiting process suspenseful the last 48 hours, tweeting “Gon shock the world !!” Monday and equivocally squashing reports from supposed sources of sources Tuesday–his 18th birthday–when he said, “I have 100 percent not made any decision yet because I really don’t know.”

One of three programs will hit the Noel lottery tonight. The 90-minute program starts at 7:30 p.m. on ESPNU and ESPN3.com.

One Response to “Who are you, Nerlens Noel?”
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  1. […] Nerlens Noel, top prospect as rated by ESPNU, announced Wednesday he will play at Kentucky next season. Signing the Everett, Massachusetts gives John Calipari the No. 1 recruiting class, the fourth consecutive for UK. Noel made the announcement in style, shaving “UK” into the back of his already amazing hi-top fade. He chose Kentucky over Georgetown and Syracuse. […]

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