The Kentucky Wildcats' basketball season has not gone the way anybody expected it to, and now things may have gotten a whole lot worse. According to CBS Sports' Jeff Goodman, center Nerlens Noel went down with a leg injury in the Wildcats' 69-52 loss to the Florida Gators on Tuesday, and the prognosis does not seem good:
Nerlens in significant pain. Still screaming. This could be bad.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanCBS) February 13, 2013
UPDATE: Tuesday, Apr. 23, at 2:28 p.m. ET by Kyle Vassalo
Jerry Tipton of the Lexington Herald-Leader passes along this quote from Noel, who says his rehab is ahead of schedule:
Noel: Knee doing good. therapist said ahead of schedule— Jerry Tipton (@JerryTipton) April 23, 2013
Noel also reveals a target return date, via Tipton:
Noel on rehab: "Taking step by step. 6-8 month injury. Christmas time" is target for return— Jerry Tipton (@JerryTipton) April 23, 2013
---End of Update---
UPDATE: Wednesday, Feb. 13, at 1:52 p.m. ET by Brandon Galvin
Kentucky star Nerlens Noel will miss the remainder of the season due to a torn ACL, according to ESPN's Andy Katz.
Kentucky announces Nerlens Noel suffered a torn ACL and is out for the season. Surgery in two to three weeks.— Andy Katz (@ESPNAndyKatz) February 13, 2013
---End of update---
UPDATE: Wednesday, Feb. 13, at 10:25 a.m. ET by Adam Wells
There is sort of good news for Noel right now. According to Andy Katz of ESPN (via Adam Zagoria of NBA.com), Noel did not fracture or break anything when he injured his knee on Tuesday night.
No fracture and no break for Nerlens Noel after X-Ray, per @espnandykatz. Still awaiting MRI slated for later today.— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) February 13, 2013
However, as Katz later noted on Twitter, the MRI is more important than the X-ray. That is when we will find out the full extent of the damage.
Keep in mind that the MRI is the key thing to determine any kind of structural damage to Noel's knee. But at least X-rays were negative.— Andy Katz (@ESPNAndyKatz) February 13, 2013
You couldn't help but feel bad for Noel when he went down. He was supposed to be the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, but who knows what will happen with that now.
---End of update---
UPDATE: Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 10:35 p.m. ET by Ryan Rudnansky
Nerlens Noel underwent tests at a Florida hospital and will head back to Lexington with the Wildcats, according to Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated and CBS Sports:
Update from UK says only that Noel underwent tests at Fla hospital and will fly back to Lexington with the team.— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) February 13, 2013
---End of update---
Following the game, Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples reported that Noel left the arena in a wheelchair:
Noel being taken out of the O'Connell Center in a wheelchair.— Andy Staples (@Andy_Staples) February 13, 2013
While that seems dire, Florida center Patric Young may have had the best seat in the house for the injury. Young said after the game that it looked as if Noel's knee had dislocated and seemed obviously bothered by the scene, per The Palm Beach Post's Jason Lieser:
UF's Patric Young on Nerlens Noel: "His leg was wobbly, knee looked dislocated. It was gruesome. I don't want to think about it."— Jason Lieser (@PBPjasonlieser) February 13, 2013
Noel's injury happened midway through the second half. Going for a block, Noel’s momentum carried him into the basket standard, where his knee hit hard and bent in an awkward fashion.
Here's a close look at the unfortunate position Noel's knee landed in (via the Lexington Herald):
The freshman star laid on the court for multiple minutes in pain, with concerned teammates and medical professionals surrounding him. After rising to his feet, Noel was then carried off the court by his teammates, but was unable to put weight on his knee as he left the floor.
Noel finished Tuesday night’s contest with eight points, six rebounds and three blocks. When Noel left the game, the Wildcats were down, 57-45, against the home Florida squad.
Though they ultimately went on to lose, the team's major concern has to be the long-term health of Noel.
Arguably the most highly touted freshman in the country, Noel has been the lifeblood of the Wildcats’ defense the entire season. He was averaging 10.6 points, 9.6 rebounds and an NCAA-leading 4.5 blocks per contest heading into Tuesday night’s contest.
While he hasn’t been dominant on the level of predecessor Anthony Davis, Noel had led the Wildcats to an 8-2 start in the SEC after a rocky non-conference slate.
Noel's improvement has been vital to this team's rise in play. He put up an astounding 12 blocks in a victory against Ole Miss on Jan. 29 and had three straight double-doubles prior to Tuesday night.
With Noel's status up in the air, Kentucky will be waiting with bated breath until hearing a final prognosis. Be sure to check back in as we give you the latest updates on Noel's health and potential return date.