Nerlens Noel is a potential No. 1 draft pick in the 2013 NBA draft. His defense and intensity make him the best potential center prospect in the draft.
Yet, he should stay in college for another season.
But could his draft stock fall if he stayed another year in Lexington?
Doubtful—centers are in short supply in the NBA, and they retain their high draft stock. What helps Noel's case is that, despite a loaded 2014 NBA draft class, the pool of centers is sparse.
Regardless of which underclassmen centers place their names in the 2013 draft class, Noel should remain at the top of the center rankings for 2014.
With another year under John Calipari, Noel's game will undoubtedly improve.
Noel has one major area of improvement: offense.
Defensively, he is is performing like his predecessor, Anthony Davis.
If you could pick one player to stay in Lexington another year, who would it be?
However, he has shown an increased offensive repertoire, evident in the first half against LSU on Jan. 26.
On his first offensive touch, Noel blew past 7'3" Andrew Del Piero and finished at the rim—all with his off hand. Two minutes later, Noel beat Del Piero and finished through contact for an and-one. He also made the free throw.
But with another year in college, Noel would be able to continue his offensive ascent.
Despite a deep recruiting class coming to Lexington in 2013, Noel's minutes per game would remain high.
No player in Kentucky's 2013 class has his combination of size, athleticism and defensive dominance. He would remain a starter for what could be the most talented team in college basketball next year.
The allure of an NBA salary will be there for Noel, and he'll likely make the jump to the NBA.
But if he stays, he would provide the leadership that the current Wildcats so desperately lack.
He would have the opportunity to evolve his game further, and most importantly, he'll have a great chance at winning a national championship.