NCAA Expands Inquiry Into Kentucky Freshman Nerlens Noel

By Paul Seaver

We know about the ongoing NCAA investigation into top UCLA recruit Shabazz Muhammad. The 6-foot-6 freshman is being held back from the Bruins’ trip to China while his eligibility status continues to be reviewed.

Now the NCAA has reportedly expanded its investigation into one of the nation’s other top recruits, Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel.

Noel, who stands at 6-foot-11, finished his academic requirements this summer at his hometown Everett High (Mass.), and was eventually cleared by the NCAA just a few days later.

However, this NCAA inquiry goes deeper than just academic standings.

Sports Illustrated‘s Pete Thamel reported this on Wednesday afternoon:

“The NCAA’s questions focused on the cast of characters that surrounded Noel’s recruitment and how Noel paid for his unofficial visits, according to a person with knowledge of the NCAA inquiry.”

Thamel credits his sources with a deeper analysis of the NCAA’s questions:

“What made the NCAA’s visit to Tilton intriguing is that a senior Kentucky official, UK chief compliance officer Sandy Bell, accompanied Merrill and Smith for the meeting. Bell didn’t ask many questions, according to the source, but did take notes and spoke up occasionally. The presence of two NCAA enforcement officials and Bell gives the appearance that this case has gone beyond the routine checking of top prospects, according to one former NCAA investigator.”

So, overall it’s tough to tell what, if anything, will come out of the current inquiry on Noel. As of now, the Massachusetts native is academically eligible to play this season, which will remain the case if the NCAA does not find any wrongdoing in relation to its current questions.

However, things could become much deeper if things go the opposite way, and Kentucky fans, like those at UCLA with Muhammad, will continue to wait patiently for a final decision.

Be sure to follow Paul Seaver on Twitter: @TheArenaPulse


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