It has been nearly four and a half months since the Kentucky Wildcats collected their eighth national championship in school history.
In that time, head coach John Calipari has seen six players off that championship team move forward into the NBA, including No. 1 overall pick, Anthony Davis.
With that, UK fans are ready for another season, a year that once again features another crop of incoming freshmen with high expectations.
That talent will be plentiful for the Wildcats in 2012-13 season and that is once again thanks in large to a recruiting class that is ranked among the nation’s best. Highlighting that class is 6-foot-11 freshman, Nerlens Noel.
Noel is by default the heir to the throne down low for Kentucky, as he will replace Davis in the Wildcats’ front court. However, this season, which very well could be the lone year that Noel spends in Lexington, shouldn’t be about the Massachusetts-native’s ability to duplicate Davis’ accomplishments.
Considering the facts, Davis is one of college basketball’s most coveted players, maybe even ever. Davis was crowned the National Player of the Year in 2011-12, an accomplishment that only one other freshman (Kevin Durant) has ever been able to capture. In addition, Davis was also the nation’s defensive player of the year, freshman of the year, SEC player of the year, Final Four MVP, and a national champion. Since his time in a Wildcats’ uniform, Davis also became the NBA’s No. 1 overall selection and an Olympic gold medalist at the 2012 London Games, all this coming before he has even donned an NBA jersey.
So, is it even fair to compare Noel’s potential to Davis’ accomplishments? Probably not.
Noel’s talent is undeniable and only time will tell what he is able to accomplish in Lexington, but one thing remains certain: it’s not about Noel’s individual accolades and his comparison to Davis, but more about his drive to help raise the ninth championship trophy in Kentucky’s storied history.
By way of the Tilton School (NH), Noel is a native of Everett, Massachusetts, a suburb of the city of Boston. Originally a member of the class of 2013, Noel was considered one of the top prospect in the country even prior to reclassifying. Once news broke of Noel’s decision to attend college for the 2012-13 season, the big man was instantly dubbed as the nation’s top prospect by many, a spot above UCLA freshman, Shabazz Muhammad.
Noel finished his academic requirements earlier this month at his hometown Everett H.S. (MA) and was eventually cleared by the NCAA to play this season. In fact, Noel arrived in Lexington on Sunday, ready to begin working with his teammates. As for Muhammad, one of the other top prospects in the class of 2012, things remains unclear due to an ongoing NCAA investigation.
Overall, the facts are in place. Noel will take Davis’ spot in Kentucky’s starting lineup this season and while both were and continue to be heralded as some of the top shot blockers in recent time, Davis’ accomplishments and Noel’s potential are seemingly impossible to compare.
Could Noel have a similar year to Davis? Sure, he’s more than talented enough to, yet what Davis has done over the course of the past year is nothing short of remarkable, so why judge Noel’s potential on that?
Noel will play his own style of basketball, something that has molded him into one of the top prospects in the freshmen class and in the end he’s out to simply accomplish what Davis and the Wildcats did in 2011-12: win a national championship.
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