It seems like it’s been a while since the Cats have received any accolades, but that trend seems to be ending in 2013. ESPN just named Nerlens Noel its Defensive Player of the Month for his performances in December:
Noel finished in the top 10 in both blocks (4.0 BPG) and steals (2.8 SPG), while also finishing in the top 25 among rebounders (9.7 RPG). He’s now on track to be the first player since Houston’s Bo Outlaw in 1992-93 to average 3.5 blocks and 2.5 steals.
ESPN’s Jason King also named Noel one of his “X-Factors” for the upcoming conference season:
The No. 1-ranked prospect in the Class of 2012, Noel certainly hasn’t been bad for the 8-4 Wildcats, whose only decent win is against Maryland. But he hasn’t exactly been dominant, either. Just as his scouting report reads, Noel is not a prolific scorer (his 10.5 points come mostly on putbacks and dunks) and his free throw shooting (52.2 percent) leaves a lot to be desired. But that’s the thing about Noel — his upside is huge. It’s obvious he’s going to get a lot better. Heck, he already has, and so have the youthful Wildcats.
Noel, who averages 3.6 blocks, became one of college basketball’s elite defenders the moment he stepped on the court for his first game. If he continues to improve offensively — and if his teammates continue to progress — Kentucky could have Final Four potential, depending on matchups.
I’ll take it. Nice job, flat top feller.