Will Nerlens Noel be Able to Bounce Back?

By Jon Hancock
John Calipari Nerlens Noel Kentucky
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It has been a long couple days for the Kentucky Wildcats and the star freshman Nerlens Noel. With the hard diagnosis of a torn ACL past him and the long road of surgery and rehab in front of him, Noel must find the strength and inspiration to work through it and move forward.

One person that the young center can draw some inspiration from is Minnesota Vikings‘ running back Adrian Peterson. Peterson tore his ACL and his MCL on December 24, 2011, his injury required reconstructive surgery and extensive rehab.

Some NFL analyst thought that Peterson’s career might be over, at least didn’t think he would return for the 2012-13 season. But Peterson proved his doubters wrong by not only returning to the football field quickly, but winning the NFL’s Most Valuable Player Award after running for 2,097 yards for 12 rushing touchdowns.

What Peterson said this season to reporter John E. Hoover, is something Noel should keep in mind moving forward:

I was able just to accept it for what it was, make my game plan and then go after it. In the midst of that recovery, there were times where I struggled, but I was able just to get my mind right mentally. I felt like that’s the key when you’re trying to bounce back from an injury or you’re going through whatever situation you might be going through mentally.

Adrian Peterson Vikings
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Noel came to the University of Kentucky so he could later get a shot in the NBA, that dream is still very much a possibility–but he must keep focused and push through.

Coach John Calipari said in his weekly radio show Wednesday about Noel’s injury:

It’s an injury that Adrian Peterson came back from and became the MVP. I don’t want to say it’s common, but it’s a common injury now for high-level athletes. They’ve got it down. He will be with the best doctors. There’s a few in our country that are the best in the world, and he will be with one of those guys.

The truth is that the injury could have been a lot worse. The good news is that he is insured, he has great doctors around him, and he already has a very good work ethic.

There is a good chance that Noel will be a terrific NBA player, and the path ahead has been travelled before by many other athletes. Just like Peterson, Noel’s story will be marked by adversity. It is up to Noel how he wants to respond to that adversity.

Noel will have surgery on his knee in two or three weeks.


Follow Jon Hancock on Twitter @jonkysportsco.

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