Coach Cal has been very lucky, and blessed, when it comes to player injuries in his 22 year career as a head coach. But that injury-free run is part of what makes Nerlens’ ACL tear so devastating, he said this afternoon on Twitter. It’s the first time he’s had to deal with an injury of this severity during the season. Calipari has sent almost 30 players to the NBA since he took his first head coaching job at UMass in 1988, and all of those players had healthy college careers under his watch.
This year, however, Nerlens Noel, Calipari’s star player and potential third No. 1 draft pick in four years, is out 6-8 months with a dreaded ACL injury. It’s unlikely Noel will suit up for Calipari and Kentucky again, and he’ll almost certainly slip from that top spot in the draft.
But Calipari is loving Noel’s attitude today, not even 24 hours after suffering the excruciating injury. Calipari said he met with Noel this morning and the meeting was very positive. He expects Noel to bounce back stronger than ever.
And for the record, Noel would’ve been okay financially had the injury been a career-ender. Calipari tweeted that Noel is insured for situations like this. Luckily, the injury won’t keep Noel from continuing his basketball career and he’ll be back out on the court by this time next season. Cal said athletes back bounce from ACL injuries all the time.
It’s good to know Nerlens is keeping his head high, not that we expected anything else, and ready to tackle the challenge that’s been put in front of him.
I bet he’ll be spending a lot of time on the phone with Derrick Rose, another one of Calipari’s favorites, who is nearing a comeback of his own from an ACL tear in his left knee last season. He should be Noel’s best friend over the next year.