Nerlens Noel is considered by many to be the top prospect in the class of 2012. However, The Kentucky Wildcats‘ big man should be atop the list of most overrated prospects as he enters his freshman season.
Big men like Noel have been overrated since Dr. James Naismith hung up his first peach basket. Larue Martin was drafted over Bob McAdoo, Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan, Greg Oden over Kevin Durant. We do not know where Noel will be drafted, but all scouts inherently overrate big men because good ones are so rare.
That is exactly the case with Noel. Noel has great shot blocking ability as he is long and athletic. However, he does not possess quite as much length and nowhere near as much offensive potential as last year’s top recruit, Anthony Davis.
Those who have been waiting for Noel to develop offensively were sorely disappointed during the Adidas Nations event that took place from August 2-6. Noel showed little development offensively or physically, where he is still skinny and can easily be pushed around. His points were restricted to putbacks off offensive rebounds or catch and dunk opportunities. He was also considerably outplayed by several centers at the event, including Isaiah Austin and Steven Adams.
Those who evaluate potential often look for size and athleticism and then assume that skills and feel for the game will develop with time and hard work. This common misconception has been the reason bigs like Andre Drummond and Nerlens Noel have been overrated. The old adage, “you can teach size,” has caused more mistakes from scouts than one can imagine.
Noel still is a long, athletic player who should be able to block shots at Kentucky and will undoubtedly get significant minutes after the mass exodus of John Calipari’s players to the draft. But his lack of strength, offensive skills and feel for the game will likely prevent Noel from being the player most expect him to be. Averages of eight points, seven rebounds and three blocks per game would be a reasonable expectation as a freshman. Those numbers are not bad. Unfortunately, expectations for Noel are so high that many will consider that kind of season to be a major disappointment and will likely apply the bust tag if Kentucky fails to reach the lofty expectations set for them.
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