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Chad Ford ranks Nerlens Noel the #1 draft prospect

Despite many saying he is overrated, Nerlens Noel is still the best NBA prospect in college basketball, according to ESPN’s Chad Ford. Ford debuted his “Big Board” for the 2012-2013, and Nerlens is right at the top:

To be clear, this is not a mock draft, which tells you what each team in the draft will likely do with their picks. Instead, Ford breaks down the top 30 prospects and evaluates their current stock. So, while Nerlens may be his top prospect, he will still only go to the team that needs/wants him the most. Nerlens has been a stud for the Cats this season, especially in the last month. He’s currently averaging 10.8 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 3.7 blocks per game. Like Anthony Davis before him, Nerlens is capable of altering a game defensively, and with a team high 44 steals so far, his skills extend beyond the post. I already miss him.

Three other Cats made Ford’s board: Alex Poythress at #10, Archie Goodwin at #11, and Willie Cauley-Stein at #24. With the talent level in college basketball down this season, potential is really trumping performance when it comes to these boards and mock drafts. Any chance one of the four returns?

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

61 responses to “Chad Ford ranks Nerlens Noel the #1 draft prospect”

  1. UK1990


  2. NotSatire

    Maybe Willie. But if he doesn’t, maybe there’s a spot on the roster for Becca Greenwell…:) 17 threes in one game, incredible.

  3. UKJoe

    They all need to stay 1-2 more years but we know that will not happen. I think Archie needs to stay the most and I hope he does.

  4. Big Wil

    Quick, remove Archie’s name from this list. He is already selfish and playing to half his potential. Maybe we can convince him if he continues at this pace he will be a second rounder. Any chance of that?

  5. NBA GM

    If Archie Goodwin, and Alex Poythress were not on Kentucky, they wouldnt even be considered for the draft. Goodwin is a turnover machine and Poythree is a Michael Beasley that can’t score near as good as Michael Beasley ( we all see how michael beasley is doing ).

    Cauley Stein???? come on…..Yes he has potential, but why leave and be a back end first round pick when he can come back, improve and be a top ten pick next year or the #1 pick after his junior year.

    Microwave world we live in, get it now and get it fast even if it wont benefit you long term. That is the harsh reality of the kentucky effect.

  6. Goodwin is Stoked

    Not a chance Goodwin is #11. He may be the worst shooter of all guards/forwards on the entire team. Was he not a highly ranked shooting guard? If he would learn to pass the ball, he could have 6-7 assists a game….he can penetrate and push the ball great, but never gives it to the wide open teammate…he prefers to get a foul and go 1-2 from the line

  7. NBA GM

    Love Calipari, his coaching and his ability to bring the top guys in. But I truly believe in about 10-15 years we will look back at all these one-and-dones and realize it really didn’t help them. I think there will be more Dajuan Wagner (Memphis) Shawne Williams (Memphis) bust stories then there will be Derick Rose stories.

  8. I Say

    #5 Michael Beasley is 6’10 and killed the college game for the short time he was in it.

  9. mudcreekmark

    You can watch college basketball games every day that have players playing 10 times better than Poythress, Goodwin and WCS but for some reason the NBA thinks that if Cal recruited them they will be NBA stars,

  10. Cats fan in ga

    I wouldn’t draft Poythress if I had the last pick of the first round. He is exactly like Marvin Williams a couple years ago. Didn’t do much in college, was drafted way too early and never developed into a reliable player in the NBA.

  11. I Say

    I would rather go for the Derrick Rose and Dajuan Wagner stories than the “be a kentucky boy, play 4 years, and then the university gives you a cake job stories”
    So you prefer the Richie Farmer and Jeff Shepard stories?

  12. Twitter Account Denied

    IF we struggle the rest of the year and only get to the sweet 16, then I think that 1 or 2 will come back just to prove something.

  13. Empty Seats

    Did anyone notice me last night?

  14. Michael Beasley

    I’m barely 6’7′ and I can’t get my shot off inside 12 feet without tasting leather.

  15. mudcreekmark

    I have said all year that Kyle Wiltjer has to be our leading scorer for us to have a chance to make a run. He is a scoring machine waiting to happen. You saw at the end of the game what we should be doing every game. Let him post up and make play. He has a high BB I.Q. and almost always makes the right play.He needs to be playing 30 minutes plus a game and not the 20 that he is getting. Having said that, I know he is terrible on defense. His foot speed makes it impossible for him to play man to man and be effective. Here is what I propose to solve this problem. Play a 2-3 zone with Wiltjer in the middle and Noel and WCS down low with him. Wiltjer is too slow to play the wings down low because he cannot close out on the 3. Noel and WCS are long enough to cover those wings and also help Wiltjer down low. Wiltjer would only be responsible for a very limited amount of space. We have to have him on the court because of his offense and this is the only way that I think that that can happen. What do you all think?

  16. Get a clue

    I agree some of these guys may need to stay and develop their game, but it’s not gonna happen. They have been recruited over for next years spots. WCS is the one who actually has a spot on next years team where he can really improve. And on another note Wagner had a nice career until he got sick. You can’t blame his short comings because of him leaving early.

  17. Blue

    #7…Of course we’ll look back and see more guys that didn’t have long, productive NBA careers than Derrick Rose types…Derrick Rose is the exception, not the rule. The average NBA career lasts about 3 or 4 years (a rookie contract, and maybe another year or two). That doesn’t necessarily mean those guys will be “busts” though…Just because they leave school early and their NBA career doesn’t pan out doesn’t make them a bust. In all reality, returning to school for many of these guys will do nothing but hurt their stock. The question I would ask myself if I were in their shoes is this: Would I rather return to school, get better, and still only be a marginal NBA player at best, or do I leave early, while my stock is high, get as much money as I can, and get better in the D-League or in practices against the best players in the world? It’s a tough choice, and like it or not, one that most of these kids that Cal recruits will be faced with.

    While the selfish fan in me truly believes it would benefit their long-term potential by returning, from a logical point of view, it doesn’t really seem that would be the case. No matter how long they play in college, their potential (and ultimate success or failure) in the NBA is not going to change much. Call it a microwave society or whatever you want, but as they say, you have to strike while the iron is hot. It basically just comes down to the individual and what they want to do. Personally, I think we will end up seeing one or two guys return that we don’t necessarily foresee.

  18. IDon'tLikeYou

    only noel has the ability to go early in the draft. he is the only one of the 4 that is There the whole game.

  19. TyE

    If WCS goes then he is in need of money in a bad way, if he stays just 1 more year he will be a lottery pick…and if poythress was smart he will not go he will be sent to the D league after the first practice..not that he doesn’t have loads of talent, he just hasn’t developed at all..and player that go to the nba when they haven’t developed tend to never make it…(Daniel orton) is a great example of that

  20. MJ4UK

    I think it would be great personally for 3 of those to return. Cauley Stein will be in beast mode after one more year of training, Goodwin and Poythress will be better suited for the NBA with another year’s experience.

  21. Laker Cat 18

    5. Yeah, Beasley was ten times the college player Poythress is. Simply because of his effort.

  22. mudcreekmark

    Archie Goodwin- Shooting guard that cannot shoot.Selfish player with a very low basketball I;Q.On offense, his main objective is to drive against 3 players and throw the ball towards the basket, fall, and hope to get a call.On defense he follows his man around the court three or four steps behind him hoping he doesn’t get the ball. Gets beat off the dribble almost every single play once his man does get the ball.

  23. jimmer210

    5 – I hope you didn’t just compare Beasley and Poythress. There games aren’t even remotely similar. Beasley averaged 26 points and 12 boards per game as a freshmen. I repeat, that is what he AVERAGED.

    Also, Beasley was a better defender and passer than Poythress by a large margin.

  24. Jughead

    Yes. No on Poythress, Goodwin, and Stein. Show me the money.

  25. Doggy

    Archie Goodwin is the best player I’ve ever seen…..
    To bad he’s going pro.. He will be sorely missed next year.
    Good luck in pros Archie! Thanks for the memories pal

  26. D. Stern

    Bullsh-t. NONE of these kids are ready for the NBA.

  27. mudcreekmark

    Alex Poythress-Has no motor. Doesn’t play hard on offense or defense. Again, very low basketball I.Q.Offensive game you would define as a slasher. Only problem is, he cannot dribble the ball well enough to slash. Can only go right handed. His only move is to get it on the baseline, try to drive along the baseline and ends up getting his shot blocked or looses the ball out of bounds.Good spot up three point shooter but only gets off one or two a game. Doesn’t make himself available,stands and hopes to get the ball. Doesn’t block his man off the boards.And generally just don’t seem to care.

  28. Jughead

    ..but, if the NBA offers the $$$, all must take it. I would.

  29. trublu

    13- clearly you werent at the game

  30. jimmer210

    As far as who comes back, everyone but Noel should come back. I see him going in the Top 3-5 picks of the draft, but I don’t think any of the others will be lottery picks even as weak as this draft is.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if they all go, but my hope is to get Harrow and WCS back.

  31. Say What?

    My thoughts on the guys going to the NBA…go if you are a lottery pick. Stay if you are out of the lottery or late first/second rounder. There is no need to rush to be a second round pick.

    Stay, work on that degree and improve your game to make it as a lottery pick.

    Cal needs to start telling these kids to stay around and work on their degrees and game if they are not projected in the top 14 (top 15 or so). I know most rookies hit the NBA-DL but there is no reason to push them out the door and let them run that route. They get hurt and are SOL for prospects on a career.

    Work on that degree if you aren’t top 15 in the draft…work on your game til you are top 15 in the draft…it makes the most sense to me at least.

  32. STEVE!

    Unfortunately for us, it doesn’t matter if they are ready for the NBA or not, somebody will be willing to take a chance on them. This early in the season, these ratings have to be based on what they did in high school and perceived potential. If Archie is the 10th or 11th best prospect in the draft, where does that put Elston Turner, Jordan McRae, and Seth Curry, to name a few that have torched us? The people making these ratings obviously haven’t watched every player in the country.

  33. CatsNColts

    I sure hope Archie goes Pro after this year. I don’t think I could stand to watch him another year. He is the most selfish overrated player I have seen since Cal got here. WCS would really benefit from at least one more year in college and could really improve his stock. Nerlens is going to get picked on potentiel and I hope he has a fantastic career in The League. Alex…….when will the beast awaken?

  34. Somervillain

    I seem to remember a quote from Willie during his commitment that specifically stated his intent to be one and done. I think all are gone, with the possible exception of Poythress. For as high as all of the mocks have him now, if he doesn’t improve I think he will seriously slide once the draft gets closer, and will need another go around to show improvement. I wish the best for him, and that is probably to go if he is in fact a lottery pick, but I agree that as of now, I wouldn’t take him if I was a GM. He doesn’t bring much to the college game, why would he bring more to the pros? Whereas with Archie, he makes a tin of mistakes, but there is no missing his presence. If I am a GM, I’d rather have that to work with.

  35. STEVE!

    31 – Amen, Brother. Terrence and Doron could have gone pro after their first year, but they came back and enjoyed being part of a National Championship team, and it didn’t hurt either of their draft stock.

  36. what???

    15- you are an idiot.

  37. smiffinator

    One thing you have to realize is the NBA teams do this to make money and do not draft players just because they are Cal’s recruit. They draft players on what that teams needs at that moment or draft players based on their potential as NBA player. NBA teams draft players they think will maximize their profits, it is not based on what Cal thinks of these kids.

  38. jeff

    Like most UK fans I haven’t missed a game this year actually I don’t think I’ve missed a game in the past 5 years. We, UK fans, know NBA talent when we see it and personally I don’t think any player on UK is NBA ready right now. Noel may be closest and he should probably go to the NBA because he going to be a top 5 pick. As for Goodwin and Poythress, I can not see them going in the first round right now. They have tons of upside but why jump to the NBA just to sit on the bench. They should stay in school and take advantage of that free education.

  39. I Say

    If you are a projected lottery pick you have to go, no way you pass up 2 million dollars and take a risk of injuring yourself, like another commentor said “strike while the irons hot.”

  40. Jones Returns

    Alex Poythress in the NBA… HA!!! There’s a good one

  41. HeshimuEvans'2ndGradeTeacher

    Poythress has a ton of PHYSICAL potential, but about 0 mental. I’m convinced now that the dude can’t run and think at the same time. Did anyone see the euro step he attempted last night? Has to be one of the worst I’ve ever seen. I really don’t get it. What do these guys do in high school besides not work on their game? Some of the basic mistakes these guys still make on both offense and defense is this team’s biggest problem.

  42. joeboo

    Hopefully only Noel will go because he’s the only one that seems ready. The rest need a lot of work and would have to turn it on in tournament time. Goodwin and Poythress are no where near ready. Cal preaches for kids to go that are ready. This year I dont see him encouraging any of them except Noel.

  43. Cat 97

    These rankings pretty much explain why there are so many busts in the NBA draft.

  44. MC

    #15. I’m not sure if you saw the A&M game when they attempted the 2-3 zone with Wiltjer and WCS, but they were completely lost. WCS doesn’t have the court awareness, and can not play breakdown d on a wing player. If you drive by WCS and have Wiltjer there, somebody is getting posterized. If Noel tries to help there are several open players. The perimeter D is bad enough as is. Watching Poythress and Goodwin trail their men is not pretty. They don’t anticipate screens and take bad angles. I do agree that when Wiltjer is on, and confident, he is a very important part to this offense.



  46. Coach Cal

    “So Alex, Archie, WCS, (and maybe Harrow), I don’t think you’re ready for the NBA just yet. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll most likely get picked in the 10-25 range, and get offered to pursue your dream while making a lot of money.” However, I think you should come back and compete so that in next years draft, which will be deeper than this years draft, you get picked in the 10-25 range at best. So let’s be honest, your draft stock is going no where.” Still it’s up to you. You can comeback and potentially come off the bench for a national championship team. Alex, we may have Andrew Wiggins in your spot, and Young will get minutes at the 3 also. The practice time should help you though in terms of play, but not draft stock. Archie, can you start over a Harrison, or Young? We’ll see. Good luck. Harrow, can you start over one of the Harrison’s? WCS, will you start over Johnson, or Lee. Heck, maybe even Randle. Also Wiltjer will be here to eat your minutes. It’s your call guys, do I think you should stay to improve your play? Sure. Can you improve your play in the NBA or even D-League to prepare though? Probably. Will your draft stock really go up if you come back? I’m not so sure. Your call.. the money and your dream, or a shot at the national championship without the guarantee of playing time like Doron Lamb and Terrence Jones had last year”.

  47. UK Fan

    Could Goodwin leave now for the NBA. My least favorite player in the Calipari era.

  48. Jughead

    Daniel Orton was not ready, and he still draws a heck of an NBA paycheck–$850k this year even though he’s a bust.

    I’d take the money.

  49. Jughead

    Bad basketball IQ and bad attitudes. Sums up Goodwin and Poythress.

  50. Reality

    You guys do know that Chad Ford bases this on conversations he has with actual NBA GM’s, right? So your personal opinions of where you would take them, or where NBA teams will take them, is irrelevant. You are wrong, Ford is right, end of story…and stop with the back-handed comments against these kids. They’ve played 16 college games, sorry their development hasn’t worked out like you had expected…we seriously have some of the worst and/or dumbest “fans” in all of sports.

  51. Bballdoc

    Noel will play some NBA minutes next season. I don’t see the other ones making an NBA roster. So where can they get on the floor? D- league. D-2. (Just joking, but if they transfer they lose a year). At UK, they’re second teamers. They need to play somewhere in order to get better. It will be a tough call for these guys.

  52. billy

    38- the reason to jump to the NBA is the money.

  53. billy

    49- Do you know these players personally? How can you judge them if you don’t know them personally? If you are not pleased with their play that is a different thing. But don’t try to judge them personally.

  54. Noel is a class act

    Who goes or doesn’t is a family choice not ours! We are FANS that is it. How can so many say a kid making millions is making a mistake? If you are projected lottery you have to go. Like one NBA. GM said if a player needs time to mature he would rather have them on a NBA team then in college.
    Noel has been every thing he was supposed to be. His numbers aren’t far off from what AD did last year. After seeing what he has done off the court since coming to UK I hope he has nothing but success! Good player GREAT kid kudos to him and his family.

  55. mudcreekmark

    36)Your argument was brilliant!!
    46)I did watch the game but don’t recall Wiltjer playing the middle of the 2-3. If he did then I apologize. Of course you are entitled to your opinion just like I am. I am just trying to think of a way that we can get Wiltjer a chance to stay on the floor.We all know there is no way he can play man to man. Of course I am the same one that was calling for Tubbys head for not playing Shagari Alleyne. You had a 7’4″ guy with a 10 foot wing spread and he is sitting with his legs folded up under him sitting on the bench. When Tubby did use him he played man to man and all the other team had to do was bring their big man out on the perimeter and Alleyne was useless. Why not put him under the goal and give him a semicircle to guard and dare him out of that area. When he was under the basket he blocked every shot that came in there and I remember even the announcers said one game that teams were going to have to start game planning for him. Then the next game he played 2 minutes. That is what is great about this site and others like it, we can come on here and be arm chair coaches.

  56. HoptownPred

    I don’t work for an NBA team, and that’s a good thing. Noel is not the best college player in the country, but if I’m signing the paycheck, he’s my #1 pick. Of course, I’ve got to have that pick to use it. Invitation to anyone to name a better pro prospect that’s eligible..Waiting on you.

  57. big cat

    @46,50,53, couldnt agree more! Go big blue!

  58. sweet sixteen

    say whaaatttt!

  59. W.W.B.B.N.D?

    Alex has not showed that he has the motor to compete at the college level. I do not see how anybody could think he could compete at the NBA level. Who has he showed that he can guard? Maybe he can develop in a couple years, but he has shown nothing yet to justify a top 10 NBA pick.

  60. KWHY?


  61. ukfan30

    i agree with most of u guys about the young guys one and done look at terrence marquise and the others they r bouncing back from nba to dleague i dont even want to get started on orton,just because u play at uk dont mean ur ready for pros i love ky but these guys r some of the sorriest ive seen in a while,jeff shephard and richie farmer have degrees to fall back on if these guys bust that first contract aint gonna lsat them a lifetime then what they gonna do, archie and alex and WCS r terrible they all have a high potential if they leave early theyll get chewed up im pros and b outta the league in 3 yrs so i say please stay one more yr atleast!!