Nerlens Noel: Top Recruit Perfect Replacement for Anthony Davis at Kentucky

Austin GreenCorrespondent IApril 14, 2012

Here we go again.

The rest of the college basketball world thought they could exhale with Anthony Davis leaving for the pros, but the Kentucky Wildcats refused to let that happen.

In typical John Calipari fashion, the controversial coach raised his proverbial middle finger by signing Nerlens Noel—the top recruit in the class of 2012.

Here's the basic scouting report Noel: he's an athletic big man with a pterodactyl wingspan, exceptional timing, incredible defensive instincts and some awesomely absurd hair. Sound familiar?

Yes, Noel is almost an exact clone of Davis, even if the unibrow has been replaced by a wicked flattop. He is unquestionably the best defensive player in his class, and Kentucky's intimidating defense won't miss a beat with him roaming the paint.

Noel is a monster defensively, using his physical tools to perfection. But like Davis, and all other great shot-blockers, he's also mastered the mental craft of swatting shots.

Shot-blocking is more about timing than anything else, and Noel's is perfect. Watch below as he waits for the ball to leave the shooter's hand before he attacks it (unless it's a dunk attempt).

This is key, because going for the block while it's still in your opponents' hands gives the referee an opportunity to call the foul. Even if it looks like a clean swat, the split-second meeting between the shooter's hand, the ball and the shot-blocker's hand often leaves some room for interpretation. But if you wait for the ball to be released, there's no debate to be had.

The fact that Noel has already grasped this concept should be terrifying for the rest of the nation. With a year of coaching from Calipari, he should be right at Davis' level by tournament time next season.

Davis was one of the most unique players college basketball has ever seen. And although he lacks the perimeter skills of his predecessor, Noel is a carbon copy of Davis defensively.

It looks like 2012-13 will be another rough season for everyone outside of Lexington.