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Calipari will tell Noel to come back if he doesn’t feel ready for the NBA

With Nerlens Noel out for the remainder of the 2012-13 season, all the Noel discussion is whether he’ll enter the NBA draft this summer or return to Kentucky for a sophomore campaign. It’s been the biggest topic in Kentucky for the last 24 hours, sadly, when fans should be worrying about the upcoming road contest against Tennessee. I’m guilty of it, too. We’re all concerned about the flattop feller and his future.

Coach Cal also addressed Noel’s future last night on his radio show, and he suggested a second season in Kentucky blue is an option, depending on Noel’s status two or three months from now.

“It’s a six-month rehab,” Cal said of Noel’s upcoming road to recovery. “When he’s two or three months in, seeing that progress and then figuring out, ‘Is he ready to go on to that next step?’ Like I told him, if you’re not ready, you come back and you become the best big guy in the country. You were one of them this year; you’ll be even better next year. But that’s something that he and his family will have to go through.”

Noel is still projected to be a lottery pick this June and his position in the draft won’t be any different next year with a loaded class. The decision will ultimately come down to if he wants to enter his rookie season in the league with a bum leg, or return to school to improve under Calipari and the Kentucky staff alongside other elite young talent — while chasing that title he was so hungry for this year.

Calipari told him yesterday, “Don’t feel pressed, because after going through six or seven months of rehab, you may say, ‘I’m not ready now to walk into a training camp that’s all new and I’m not ready.’ Well, then you come back and you be the best big man in the country again. That’s his option.”

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

65 Comments for Calipari will tell Noel to come back if he doesn’t feel ready for the NBA

  1. NotSoFast
    11:14 am February 14, 2013 Permalink


  2. El Pollo Loco
    11:15 am February 14, 2013 Permalink

    My gut instinct wants to tell him, “Go and don’t look back, big fella!” but if it’s a matter of him genuinely not feeling ready to be a professional and he feels like he needs more time to personally develop and mature, I respect that and would more than welcome him back with open arms. To me, it’s a good problem/decision to have.

  3. Titfortat
    11:15 am February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Hopefully Cal convinces Goodwin to go pro or transfer, unless he can convine him to be a bench warmer next year.

  4. UK Wildcat
    11:17 am February 14, 2013 Permalink

    I still think he’d be better off rehabbing on an NBA team’s dime without having to worry about classes.

    But if he comes back and is healthy by SEC play next year, wow.

  5. Scooter
    11:18 am February 14, 2013 Permalink

    3. Poythress to.

  6. sadly
    11:20 am February 14, 2013 Permalink

    i still think he goes. he’ll get paid to rehab, no more classes, and no more practice limits.

    all of this of course is dependent on his draft stock

  7. Crizzle
    11:20 am February 14, 2013 Permalink

    How does the uncertainty with Noel affect the big 3 recruits still left? He is possibly another body taking away playing time in the front court.

  8. Booby
    11:20 am February 14, 2013 Permalink

    3 & 5, get real. These are 18 year old kids we are talking about. I think you all need to be a little more patient with these two.

  9. twnky
    11:21 am February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Sports boner!!

  10. Crizzle
    11:21 am February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Still don’t understand why god had to destroy nerlens knee instead of yours drew. That would have been much more preferable.

  11. jpo
    11:21 am February 14, 2013 Permalink

    #1 nailed it

  12. UK Wildcat
    11:23 am February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Poythress could probably benefit from another year. He quite obviously is not mentally prepared to be the type of player we need him to be, so coming off the bench may actually suit him better.

  13. Al B. Frank
    11:24 am February 14, 2013 Permalink

    10- I don’t know about Drew’s knee, but I would sacrifice my knee in place of Nerlens’. My knee has no bearing on my earning potential or on the future of Kentucky basketball.

  14. JustSayin
    11:28 am February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Totally agree with Cal on this. There are merits to both actions from NN. But if he’s not really ready then ‘yes’ he’ll have some money in the bank but the other parts of his ‘job’ will be not so pleasant. When you go to the NBA it is a job, period.

  15. MustacheMan
    11:30 am February 14, 2013 Permalink

    He absolutely needs to go Pro. He could still very well be the #1 pick, top 5 almost guaranteed. You don’t pass up that kind of opportunity to return to college, where you could get hurt again and never see that NBA payday. I’d love for him to be back, and we would be absolutely ridiculous with him, but I just don’t see it happening.

  16. Big Mike in The Wood
    11:31 am February 14, 2013 Permalink

    I would love to have Nerlens for another season but he’d be a Kentucky loving fool to skip the draft this year.

  17. Pimp K
    11:32 am February 14, 2013 Permalink

    I really hope Nerlens stays. I just think he’s a great guy and someone I have totally enjoyed watching develop this season.

  18. Dude
    11:33 am February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Drew I think the UK fans ARE worried about the upcoming games. Did you read our comments in the post about WCS. I didn’t think all we were talking about was wether Noel would come back or not. I’m pretty sure the main assumption is that he is gone.

  19. H.A. Milton
    11:33 am February 14, 2013 Permalink

    This is just toying with my emotions (and Dakari Johnson’s)…

  20. MN CAT
    11:35 am February 14, 2013 Permalink

    8: The thing is, 3 & 5 are probably 13 year old kids!

  21. Jack
    11:36 am February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Ok I was thinking about this possibility and it brings up question, on who goes and who stays. Gone for sure, Mays and Beckham. Polson, Malone, and Long are all preferred walkons. If we only get the six recruits we have coming in now, we are going to be one scholarship short if Noel stays. And that doesn’t take into consideration if we get another recruit. So who would be giving up a scholarship then? If Noel, Goodwin, Poythress, and Cauley-Stein all go then we have tons of room, so much that the walkons get to keep scholarships too.

  22. UK FAN
    11:37 am February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Hope he can come back and make a serious run for a National Championship. He will actually have some good guards next year to help him out

  23. mike
    11:37 am February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Not sure Poythress is mentally prepared to play BB at any level.

  24. Turner the Burner
    11:40 am February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Third round?

  25. NBA league pass
    11:42 am February 14, 2013 Permalink

    There is absolutely 0 percent chance that Noel is back. Zero.

  26. Smitty
    11:43 am February 14, 2013 Permalink

    2013 – 14
    Picked #1 $13,909,800 over 3 years
    Picked #5 $9,124,800 over 3 years
    Picked #7 $7,565,700 over 3 years

  27. IndyAlan
    11:46 am February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Not sure Goodwin was or is ever ready to play at UK. Looks like Poythress is playing his was into a second year at UK which would be great for our depth & chance at #9!!

  28. Titfortat
    11:47 am February 14, 2013 Permalink

    8 & 20 : Just being honest, if class coming in is as good s advertised then Goodwin wont play muh and it might be better for his career to enter the draft or transfer. Of course, if Cal can convince to come off the bench, then by all means keep him. But Cal cant honestly tell him that next year he will play 30 plus mins and take all the shots as he is doing this year.

  29. #1
    11:50 am February 14, 2013 Permalink

    If Goodwin could play as well as he thinks he is, he would have a shot at being a lottery pick. Now for Poythress, we wish he could play as well as we think he is, if he is. He just doesn’t look interested.

  30. Titfortat
    11:51 am February 14, 2013 Permalink

    And if we get Wiggins and/or Randle, the same goes for AP. Again, just being honest, UK is not for everyone as Cal says, so if you attack me, you are attacking Cal as well.

  31. Al B. Frank
    11:51 am February 14, 2013 Permalink

    I trust Cal to do the right thing by these young men. He knows he has considerable influence over their futures and he seems to take this responsibility very seriously. I don’t think Cal would ever give Nerlens any bad advice just to benefit himself.

  32. midge
    11:52 am February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Simple question… If at your current job they told you, “Stay on 1 more year and you are GUARANTEED 2 million or so…(insurance policy) but will likely make 13 million over three years or you can leave now and make 7 million over 3 years which would you do?

  33. @7
    11:55 am February 14, 2013 Permalink

    I could care less about the remaining 3 recruits. I would take Noel in a second year over anyone of them.

  34. BlueRedNeck
    12:01 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    I agree that the logical choice for Nerlens would be to take the money this year and go with the draft. But there may be an emotional component in it for him too. He has obviously demonstrated a love for UK from the start — how many one-and-done players go around with their school’s name shaved into their hair? How many go to the trouble to visit sick kids and nursing homes? Nerlens is a different kind of Cat, and he may just be genuinely enjoying basking in the adoration of BBN. Once you go to the pro’s, all of the intangibles that you get with the college basketball experience are gone. It’s a job at that point. Yes, it may be wishful thinking, but some kids are not as worried about the NBA money.

  35. theWilkman
    12:03 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    If he isn’t ready to take the step, he isn’t ready. Cal has proven that he keeps the best interest of his players at heart so if he, Nerlens, and Nerlens’ family agree on a decision, it is the right one, regardless of which side they land on.

    That being said, if he came back and we land 1/3 of the recruits left on the board, that undefeated season is a real possibility.

  36. BlueRedNeck
    12:04 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    21, I think a lot of our problems this year can be attributed to the fact that the kids you listed as “preferred walk-ons” are on scholarship. In the past, these schollies would be used for more talented players who could actually make a contribution off the bench. I think Cal may have to think long and hard about building a stronger bench and more continuity on the roster in the future.

  37. Flawed
    12:13 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    While I love Noel, he is totally flawed from a college basketball perspective. We think he is great, because next to the other yahoos on the team, he is, but think about it. He can’t shoot free throws, he can’t shoot period. The only way he can score is to dunk it. He has absolutely no offensive skills. We can’t open up the outside because we don’t have anyone to go to underneath. He may be a productive pro as he will have many teammates that do all the things he can’t and he will add a tremendous defensive presence. I will give him credit for winning probably 3 games for us this year just with the defense, but as we all are seeing that just goes so far when we come up against teams that can really put up big offensive numbers.

  38. I Agree
    12:14 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    #36 I agree with you. Cal needs to pull in some role players that can actually contribute when necessary. We need players for more than just filling out the team photo.

  39. dubowski
    12:15 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    28: You are being honest, yes. Honestly stupid.

    The incoming class is good yes. But why do you think that? Because of their highlights and class rankings? Archie and Alex were also five star recruits and had stunning highschool highlight reels too.

    You have no idea how an incoming class will adjust to college game. As experienced sophmores, Goodwin and Poythress will be adjusted. To say, right now, that they will ride the bench next year, is just ignorant and disrespectful.

  40. Han
    12:19 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Well, assuming he passes tests and such with NBA doctors, he’d get really good treatment if one of them draft him, though there’d be tons of conditions in his contract.

    But he’ll get pretty good treatment here. Just a matter of if he wants to play in college more and risk another injury. He does have the insurance, but his cost will go up now, too.

    But if he comes back, WCS better go pro. If not, and assuming Johnson and Lee don’t ask out of their LOI, add Wiltjer, we would have one of the best front courts in the history of college basketball, even without Randle, or a returning Poythress.

    Expected Scholarship Players:

    1-2 of Wiggins, Randle, Gordon

    Maybe Returning:

    Preferred Walkons:

    So assuming Harrow and Wiltjer and Hood are all back and on schollie (safe assumption unless transfer), we’d have 4 scholarships between Noel, WCS, Poythress, Goodwin, Wiggins (possible), Randle (possible), Gordon (possible). All of our current frosh could develop if come back, but draft position could slip, especially for Goodwin and Poythress (though if Poythress returns, there’s no way Randle comes).

    If Poythress and Goodwin go pro (expected), we could still take Wiggins and Randle, and both WCS and Noel could come back, maxing us at 13 with the preffered walkons back off schollies. WCS will probably go pro, though, as he’s going to continue to show more now that he’ll start.

    Doubt it would ever happen, Noel and/or WCS returning with Lee and Johnson coming in, as we’d be too talented, especially inside, but the thinking is Wiggins is still holding an offer, but do we take both him and Randle if they want to come?

  41. Han
    12:23 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    39) If we get Wiggins, he starts over Goodwin. He’s on that level. Poythress could beat out some guys for minutes, but only if he develops a motor/killer instinct. As it stands, Harrison starts at PG next year, his brother is likely for the 2G, ahead of Young, though I’m sure it’ll be a battle. If Wiggins comes, he starts at the 3 over Poythress or anyone else. At the 4, Randle if he comes, or Poythress could, but if Noel or WCS come back, we probably start one of them plus Johnson or Lee, because those 2 plus either Noel or WCS is an unstoppable back line. Yes, the talent coming in next year hasn’t played at this level, but Poythress and Goodwin are not on the same level as Jones and Lamb were their freshman year. We all want them to be, but a combination of factors have kept that from being the case.

  42. Cat89
    12:26 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    #37) Respectfully disagree. I have seen Noel make several nice post moves using both hands. The kid doesn’t get enough touches, in my admittedly subjective opinion. Could these skills be refined sure, but to say he has absolutely not offensive skills is a bit of an embellishment. I do agree he really has or at least hasn”t displayed a jumber. I think Cal’s advice and approach is spot on at this point in the process. There is absolutely no doubt that Coach runs a player’s first / centered program. That is why the best want to play for him.

  43. BNClay
    12:27 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    37 I see Noels NBA a career being similar to that of Kenneth Faried. Only not quit the rebounder that Faried is. Both are high energy, shot blockers, high post passers, good man to man D, he is just not quite the rebounder that Faried is. But he can get there. Faried starts for a playoff team. Noel could do the same.

  44. DHo
    12:35 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Understand the money angle of it… want to add a couple of things.
    1. Money may be the same if he goes this year or not.
    2. He may want something money can’t buy… a NCAA Championship

    It really is up to NN… I think he is in a win-win situation.

  45. Titfortat
    12:36 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    39 : see 41. Noughh said. If you think Im stupid, then there are a lot a stupid people whomthink like me. Goodwin was ranked 14 and has been average at best, if youmhink he will start over Wiggins, Randle or the Harrisons, then you are he stupid one. Even if Goodwin, somehow transforms and becomes the best player next year, Cal would have to start/play his prized recruits or else the pipeline would dry up.

  46. Biglaw Dawgin'
    12:51 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    28 – What a lot of people don’t realize is that there are 200 minutes of playing time in every game (5 positions X 40 mins). That’s enough time for 8-10 guys to play 20-25 minutes per game. If Goodwin and Poythress come back, you better believe they’ll get their share.

  47. MemphisCat
    12:53 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Whatever is the best interest of Noel is alright with me, if he comes back it is extra sweet for our chances next year. If he goes to the NBA, we expected that from the start of the season.

  48. weak draft class
    12:55 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Lets be honest here… goodwin, poythress, and WCS will all go. they would be stupid not to, as the next two draft classes will be ridiculous, and their best chance at the first round is this year. wiltjer can even go if he wants to, although it will be in the 2nd round. AG, AP, and WCS are guaranteed first round this year based off of potential alone, why would they risk coming back and coming off the bench?

  49. RST
    1:04 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Right now everything is speculation. Depending upon the damage, how the surgery goes, and more importantly how rehab goes, everything is speculation. Looking at the rehab road Noel has facing him, the kid can do whatever he wants. He would benefit skill wise to come back because he is going to still need a lot of weight room work especially after being down so long, post up work, along with shot & free throw work. April 28 NBA Draft Early Entry Eligibility Deadline – June 17 NBA Draft Early Entry Withdrawal Deadline

  50. DavidUK
    1:07 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Come back and do what? Block more shots? Get more steals? Make more hustle plays? I mean c’mon, this guy has proven he is league ready.

  51. dubowski
    1:09 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    45)Cal will start the best player. The pipeline will not dry up. 46 hit it right on the money: If you are good, you will get minutes.

    If you are going to call out specific class rankings of players, then you sir are definitely the stupid one. Joe Crawford was a top five recruit. He stayed 4 years and is no longer in the NBA. The point is YOU DONT KNOW HOW THESE KIDS WILL PLAY. Stop acting like basketball analysts.

    48) that is what I actually think will happen. this was all just if AG and AP stayed

  52. Good luck Nerlens
    1:21 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    All Cal is saying is for Noel to keep his options open. I agree 100% some think he should declare now for the NBA and start rehabbing for the NBA. I would hope UK would have a DR. Capable of doing the surgery right. This way he can rehab on UK’s dime instead of his own, he might as well get something out of college other then a hurt knee!
    Nerlens game isn’t a define as AD’s was but to say he has no offensive skills is far fetched. Noel was shown he can score. Given this teams lack of rebounding your not going to see him to far away from the basket!
    Yes Nerlens has been great in Lexington, but he’s only been here less then a year. He can go to hospitals and schools in his new city too. He’s going to be a quality kid no matter where he goes.
    Anybody who thinks Nerlens can’t play in the NBA is out of touch. There is no dominate centers like Shaq in the NBA now. Nerlens is closer to Camby then AD was. Camby has done just fine being a shot blocker in the NBA.

  53. Stoops Troops
    1:26 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    We need Stoops in his ear. He could probably convince him to come back for another season

  54. Good luck Nerlens
    1:37 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    The better question for UK is WCS? Will this injury give him time to shine and put him in the draft.
    Most Mock drafts have him as the last pick in the first round meaning he boarder line. One mock draft said if he came back to school he projected to be top 10 in that draft.
    I think a year in the weight room plus a year to have only basketball seeing how he played high school football could make a world of difference in his game. If he plays well and improves his stock it’s a easy choice. If he plays so-so and stays around the second round he’s going to have a hard choice to make.

  55. Good luck Nerlens
    1:49 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    53) I know that was more a joke the any thing else! Stoops is looking more and more like a great hire. Stoops may well be a good coach who just needed a chance to show what he could do, but in Cal we have the BEST in the business! Some on here crack me up thinking Cal doesn’t play the best players, but the ones who where rated the highest.
    45) if you think Cal plays players based solely on high school rankings your crazy. The reason Goodwin and Harrow are playing over Polson and Hood is they are better. We all like Polson because he’s a Kentucky boy who has took advantage of his time, but to think he’s better then the others is crazy! UK plays for March and for us to be any good we need those guys to play the way they are capable. Polson simply doesnt have the foot speed. He’s been exposed against the better teams he’s capable of playing spot minutes but in no way should he be the starting PG for UK!

  56. Bob Loblaw
    1:50 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    #34 I don’t know if that’s really that logical. If he’s not ready and goes in, his career might be 1 to 2 years and he’s broke by the time he’s 25. But if he stays at UK and improves by leaps and bounds, goes #1 and has a long career, then that is the logical choice.

  57. Levi
    2:41 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    At first I thought going pro was a no brainer, but then I went to a sight that showed the difference in pay scale between each draft pick. If he is going to be #1 to #4 then it is a no brainer, but if he drops to #5 or below and could get back to #1 the next year then the financial decision is not so straight forward. A difference in 5 or more draft spots amounts to a lot of money over 5 years.

  58. Good luck Nerlens
    3:03 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    56) I think your missing what others are saying? Noel’s game is clearly ready for the NBA. His D is on par with McGee and Imbaka and they are starting centers in the NBA. His game is NBA ready and his offence will improve with coaching in the NBA or UK. His maturity is not a problem this kid carries himself better then most 50 year olds!
    He left high school a year early so he could get to the NBA a year earlier. His words not mine. So IF his knee is ready, then his dreams are right in frount of him. If his knee isn’t ready then naturally he comes back.
    The big thing is this knee injury isn’t hurting his draft stock that much if any at all thank god! But if he was to return and hurt the knee agian he can kiss It all goodbye! No team would take a chance to draft him in the first round.

    3:31 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Cal is such a great coach. Never any mind games with these kids; just straight up tells them how it is and put their careers before his success.

    Love this guy!

  60. Tej
    4:21 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Cal’s honesty with his players is the primary reason for their trust in and loyalty to him. As far as we know, Cal has not placed his interests above any player’s yet. For that reason, I think Nerlens, and Goodwin and Poytress, will rely on his advice-and they should.
    For everyone who is already plugging next years’s freshmen into positions, what if some of them experience the same struggles as Goodwin, Poytress, and Harrow have had this year? We were spoiled by how mature Wall, Knight, Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist, et al., were and how fast they adapted to the system.

  61. KyKid
    4:46 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    Yes please! May I have another?

  62. Bobby Knight's Shrink
    5:04 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    No way he comes back…that is ludicrous !!!

  63. Bobby Knight's Shrink
    5:05 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    And yes, #54, this injury will also cause us to lose WCS as he will now have plenty of time to “show his stuff” !!

  64. Bluecat
    9:01 pm February 14, 2013 Permalink

    I feel because of the timing of the injury, 6-8 months rehab, with draft
    notice in April, two mos away. Logic says he comes back to UK for year #2.

    Together with the 2013 freshmen, we
    could be about to witness the greatest team in UK history and a lock for title #9.

  65. zo
    4:55 pm February 15, 2013 Permalink

    We’ll be fine no worries.So yeah theres good teams aout there.We can still do it just as much as anybody.The mind is a strong thing.If they can just flip the switch game on folks.I still believe.I know I’m stubborn, but you gotta believe in the power of hard work and just having in ur thoughts that this is gonna be mine I’m gonna go in here and own it,and just take it.You know.We and Cal can talk all day long and get them nowhere,it’s totally up to them if they set goals alittle at a time and just do it.Just flat out play boys!You young men mean the world to us and we still support you 200%.Noel we support you what ever you do.Some of these fellas will be lucky to play much next year unless they get their heads right.For sure!Yeah we’ll make the big dance no worries.I just want them to come out and represent us well,and to play to the best of their abilities.Or it will be time to warm the bus up.We have a shot this year.Why, because Ncaa is down alittle.Everyone is losing.I just believe we have a fighting chance as long as they fight every game one game at a time.GO CATS!!!!!!!!!