Kentucky Basketball: 3 Ways Nerlens Noel Could Be Better Than Anthony Davis
The Kentucky Wildcats are tasked with replacing college basketball's best big man. As Anthony Davis moves on to the NBA, Nerlens Noel arrives on campus.
According to Rivals (via Yahoo! Sports), Noel is ranked as the No. 1 center and the second-best prospect overall.
Kentucky has filled its roster with some of the most talented high school recruits over the years. Noel and Davis are both elite talents. They are both similar types of players, and their overall skill level is closer than most might think.
It's going to be difficult for Noel to fill Davis' shoes, let alone surpass him in the minds of the Kentucky faithful.
Here are three ways Nerlens Noel could be better than Anthony Davis.
It's common for frontcourt players to develop their offensive games slowly. It takes time to adjust to the physical style of play in the middle.
It takes a strong-minded prospect to stay dedicated to working on post moves and all of the nuances of the post game.
In Noel's case, his mindset is just right.
Noel spoke to Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld about his developing offensive game:
“It’s come a very long way,” Noel said of his offensive game. “I’m still improving, especially this summer. I’ve been in the gym a lot, working on my shot. It’s really come a long way from when I was younger. My whole mindset has changed. I know that I have to score. My confidence has grown a lot too. It’s a good thing. It gives my team the best chance to win.”
Kentucky fans should be excited that Noel is working hard in the offseason and that his confidence is growing on the offensive end. The fact that Noel will do whatever it takes to give his team the best chance to win shows an advanced level of maturity for an 18-year-old.
If Noel is already this dedicated to his offensive development at such a young age, he could improve in that area of the game quicker than most expect.
Nerlens Noel is such a rare defensive talent. In fact, there are talent evaluators that believe he could be an even better shot-blocker than Anthony Davis.
While that remains to be seen, the early reports on Noel suggest it isn't that absurd of an idea.
Steve Jones of Rivals has watched Davis and Noel each play in high school. Jones said on this UK Players Preview Podcast that the blocks record at Kentucky, held by Davis, could be in jeopardy with Noel arriving on campus.
After such a stellar year where Davis carried Kentucky defensively at times, it's hard to imagine Noel coming close to that.
Physically, however, Noel does match up with Davis. They are nearly the same height and weight. Their wingspans are also similar.
If Noel can translate what he did in high school to college almost immediately, he could be an even bigger defensive impact than Davis.
Help from Another Big Man
Kentucky's fans can count on John Calipari to deliver some of the nation's best recruits. One particular recruit in this year's class could be a huge help for Nerlens Noel.
Willie Cauley is 6'11" with some skills to go along with his size. Scouts at the Adidas Nations Event were impressed by the big man, according to Aran Smith of NBAdraft.net.
Smith wrote this about Cauley after the event:
"Scouts came away impressed with Cauley's center size, energy level and willingness to run the floor, block shots and rebound. He's still very raw but in reality didn't look a whole lot different than teammate Nerlens Noel."
Anthony Davis did not have a teammate with the same size and skill level Cauley possesses. Noel having this luxury will only elevate his game.
Cauley's presence in Kentucky's frontcourt will free Noel up to be an active shot-blocker. Noel can take more risks on the defensive end with the comfort of knowing Cauley can provide a last line of defense at the basket.
While a big man should always be concerned about getting into foul trouble, Noel won't have to play passively to avoid foul trouble in fear of leaving Kentucky without a big man on the floor.
Some of the most important minutes for Kentucky basketball this year will be when Noel isn't on the floor. Cauley's presence will allow Calipari to give Noel the rest he needs.