Nerlens Noel: Kentucky Wildcats Ensure Tournament Success with Huge Commitment

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistApril 14, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - APRIL 02:  Head coach John Calipari celebrates as he cuts down the net after the Wildcats defeat the Kansas Jayhawks 67-59 in the National Championship Game of the 2012 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on April 2, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

For my money, there was no better college recruit this season than 6’10" center Nerlens Noel and, of course, the Kentucky Wildcats walked away with him.

The Wildcats have walked away with the best recruiting class each of the last few seasons, and adding Noel to this upcoming class will be huge for the program's attempts to repeat their NCAA national title run from this season.

As good as Kentucky was this season, head coach John Calipari knew he had to make a big splash in terms of bringing in top-tier high school talent in order to make up for the big names walking into the NBA.

College basketball insider and analyst Dick Vitale talks about Kentucky’s turnover year after year:

Any time you lose a player the quality of an Anthony Davis, you need to reload. The Wildcats will lose a lot from the national championship team, and Calipari put together a dynamite class, led by Noel in the middle. Then add Alex Poythress, Archie Goodwin and Willie Cauley and Big Blue Nation will be smiling once again. Mr. Calipari can flat-out recruit.

While replacing a player like center Anthony Davis will be next to impossible, the landing of a 5-star recruit like Noel at the same position and having him be taught under the exact same criteria may be the key to developing his replacement.

Noel doesn’t play the exact same style down low, but the minor differences are nothing that will force Calipari to change his offensive or defensive schemes.

With a whole new class of elite freshmen, the Wildcats are looking to make another deep run in the NCAA Tournament and send the next group of players to the NBA with a college championship under their belt

Plus, Calipari would almost certainly become the one-and-done coach. That means all the studs out of high school with the NBA on their mind will stop for a cup of coffee in Lexington.


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