In case you missed it yesterday, #1 ranked high school prospect Nerlens Noel made arguably the most creative commitment in HS hoops history by shaving the letters “UK” into the back of his head before making his announcement on live TV by turning in his chair to reveal his college choice……Kentucky.
Fresh off winning their 8th National Title in program history, ranking 2nd behind only UCLA, the Kentucky Wildcats could be facing a major overhaul of the roster with senior Darius Miller graduating and upwards of 5 underclassmen(Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist, Jones, Lamb, and Teague) potentially being taken in the 1st Round of the upcoming 2012 NBA Draft.
But when they have a master recruiter like John Calipari at the helm, tons of talented reinforcements are on the way in the form of the nation’s #1 ranked recruiting class, for the 4th consecutive season. Kentucky’s class includes 4 players ranked within the Top 40 players in the nation.
While Noel is actually a better shot-blocker than Anthony Davis, he’s much more raw on the offensive end. One advantage Noel has over Davis at this point in their development is that Nerlens has always been a big man, possessing low post instincts on both sides of the ball that Davis, a former 6’2 guard, was just in the infancy stages of learning.
Noel is so prolific defensively that many have already compared him to NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell for his ability to take over a game without scoring a point. Many consider him the best shot-blocker to enter the collegiate ranks since Greg Oden, back in 2006.
When it comes to offensive production, Calipari will look to a pair of McDonald’s All Americans in SG Archie Griffin, ranked as the #15 overall prospect in the 2012 Class, and SF Alex Poythress, the #8 overall prospect who has already dropped 46 points and 18 rebounds on an opponent earlier this season. Griffin is a relentless scorer and shooter, while Poythress is getting better by the minute, virtually keeping pace with Shabazz Muhammed in the 2012 McDonald’s All American Game.
The Cats also have the athletic 7 foot center Willie Cauley, the #40th ranked prospect in the Class to back up Noel next season. Cauley was a two sport star in high school, who doubled as his school’s stand-out wide receiver in football.
But the even scarier scenario is the fact that the Wilcats in all likelihood aren’t done yet on the recruiting front. They are also in the mix for 3 other elite level uncommited HS stars like PF Tony Parker, PF Anthony Bennett, and SF Amile Jefferson. In my estimation, Calipari will get at least one more commitment and will be the Pre-season #1 team prior to the 2012-2013 season.
Check out Nerlens Noel’s Senior Mixtape:
Allen Moll has been a lifelong NBA and NCAA College Basketball fan who watches and studies games religiously, and coaches youth basketball in his native Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania. Allen has also provided content to Bleacherreport.com, Upperdeckblog.com, Cleveland.com, CSN Philly.com, Buckets Magazine, in addition to being a tenured NBA and NCAA columnist for TheHoopDoctors.com.