We love Jay Bilas, despite that whole Duke grad thing. He’s widely considered one of the most rational national media members in the game, which makes us sit up a little straighter when he stalks about the Cats. Today, he and Chad Ford discuss the five most “overrated” prospects in college basketball, and Bilas puts Nerlens Noel atop his list, which he points out is just as much a reflection of the media’s inaccurate projections as it is the players’ failure to meet expectations:
Consider Noel’s numbers and performance so far. Halfway through his freshman season, Noel is averaging 10.8 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.7 blocks, 2.7 steals and 1.9 assists per game while shooting 58 percent from the floor and 58 percent from the line on 3.9 attempts per contest. Noel is the only player taller than 6-foot-5 who ranks in the top 30 in the nation in steals, and is the only player in the top 30 in the country in both steals and blocks.
Contrast that with the freshman season of Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing. In his first season at Georgetown, Ewing averaged 12.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.2 blocks, 1.08 steals and 0.6 assists per game while shooting 63 percent from the floor and 62 percent from the line on 4.5 attempts per game.
Does the fact Noel’s numbers are comparable and in some categories superior to Ewing’s numbers indicate that Noel is as good or will be as good as Ewing? Of course not. However, it underscores that this is not a race, and today’s “overrated” player can be tomorrow’s hot prospect. These players who are not yet where we want them to be — or where we projected them to be — may very well get there in time. Yet time is the one thing we don’t allow them.
Of the four UK freshmen, I’d argue that Nerlens has lived up to his expectations the most, but in the grand scheme of college basketball, is he really “overrated” so far?
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