It’s a funny thing when a big letdown is followed up by a massive victory. Karma, it would seem, is a fan of college basketball recruiting, at least in the case of the BBN and Nerlens Noel.
While The Brow is undoubtedly the most iconic physical feature a Calipari player has had, the Flat-top wasn’t too far behind. And while following in the footsteps of a once-in-a-generation player and a national championship team is no easy task, Nerlens gave it all of the mental strength he had, but in the end, it was his body that crumpled under the weight.
After the success of Anthony Davis at UK, the market value for tall, lanky shot blockers was at an all-time high. So naturally, when a 6’11” phenom with a flat-top fade comes on the scene, college coaches were salivating.
The Tilton Academy star entertained offers from the likes of Kansas and North Carolina, but would go on to visit Syracuse, Georgetown, and Kentucky.
Before Noel would announce his decision, there was another matter of business to attend to.
The 2012 recruiting gauntlet was dominated by Noel and Muhammad, both of whom were considering Kentucky and both of whom were going to commit on the same night. Was a package deal in the cards?
Not on this night. After Shabazz committed to UCLA, fans started to entertain the idea that maybe Cal wouldn’t snag either of the top two players in the nation.
But fortunately, the big man came through with one of the slickest college commitments of all time.
Now that’s how you promote not only yourself, but your future school.
Noel played in 24 games, averaging nearly a double-double per game, with 10.5 points and 9.5 rebounds. He was the anchor of the 2012-2013 team, which only made his eventual injury all the more devastating. Without Nerlens, the team struggled to find a rhythm to ride out the rest of the season.
A premature exit in the NIT ended Cal’s most lackluster year at Kentucky.
“Robert Morris” exists as a painful joke in the Bluegrass.
And a healthy Nerlens Noel is now one of the biggest “what if ” scenarios in UK history.