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How Will UK Replace Nerlens?


Um… easily?  This feels like a trick question.

It’s a fair one, though, really, from an outsider’s perspective.  Nerlens Noel was one of the best defenders we’ve seen in a long time, and with him, UK was a legitimate NCAA tournament team.  Without him, well, you saw what happened.  But when ESPN asks how we’ll replace him, you have to wonder if they’ve been paying attention this summer.  This doesn’t mean that we won’t miss the big guy who might have had the best character since Patrick Patterson, but anybody that really needed an answer to the question must be a football person.  To be fair, ESPN addressed this same topic with all 13 teams who lost a lottery pick, but still, you would think this one would just have a link to their recruiting homepage.  Dana O’Neil, though, decided that if they were paying her, she might as well grab the low-hanging fruit.

Before tore his ACL in February, Noel was considered the top defensive post player in college basketball. ESPN’s Jay Bilas even referred to him as a “defensive savant.” Still, when Noel announced he was leaving school after one season to enter the NBA draft, the Wildcats hardly flinched.

“It’s a next-man-up philosophy,” Telep said. “There’s no concern about replacing guys. This is what they do. When you walk through the doors, you’re expected to replace the next guy.”

Kentucky returns projected first-round draft pick Willie Cauley-Stein in the paint. A 7-footer, Cauley-Stein made tremendous strides as a freshman but is still incredibly raw. He’ll have the luxury of playing alongside incoming freshman Julius Randle, a 6-9, 225-pounder who is almost certain to be a top-five pick in next summer’s NBA draft.

“They have a rim protector on their roster in Willie Cauley-Stein and they have another rim protector in Marcus Lee, who’s going to have to figure out a way to get on the floor as a freshman,” Telep said. “It’s not like they’re void of rim protectors. They just don’t have the best one in college basketball anymore.”

There’s no way to replace his heart, or his hustle, but we do have to have somebody to match Nerlens’ production.  So how do you replace the SEC Freshman of the Year?

By committee.

Article written by Corey Nichols

13 Comments for How Will UK Replace Nerlens?

  1. UKSupporter76
    8:52 pm July 6, 2013 Permalink

    Hmmm… slow news day. So let’s why not write a short little piece, making fun of ESPN’s writers for coming up with something to write about? That’ll be a lot easier than actually coming up with something on your own, wouldn’t it?

    Low-hanging fruit, indeed.

    I guess it’s better than the alternative though… the inevitable “Shaka Smart… Yeah, maybe we can replace Calipari with Shaka Smart” article that Corey is, no doubt, working on.

  2. Wildcatsteeler
    9:16 pm July 6, 2013 Permalink

    There will soon be 5 NBA teams that are sorry they didn’t take him. His ability to strip/steal the ball was just as impressive as his shot blocking. He’ll be able to average 10 points just off of hustle. So if his offense develops the skies the limit.

  3. Seriously
    9:19 pm July 6, 2013 Permalink

    LOL nichols is the Kia of KSR writers

  4. Tim
    9:24 pm July 6, 2013 Permalink

    Was Johnson the number 1 center coming into college? He will be a star!!

  5. Platinum Unis
    9:27 pm July 6, 2013 Permalink

    Why are we seeing so much garbage on replacing Calipari? He is four years in with probably twice that many to go. He wants to take down UCLA’s record before he’s done at UK. Why don’t people like Corey Nichols stop writing trash like that?

    Does anybody else see Corey Feldman, circa Stand By Me (only a little older), when they picture what Corey Nichols probably looks like?

  6. Ruppeat Offender
    10:16 pm July 6, 2013 Permalink

    The discussion is rim-protection and Telep mentions Marcus Lee, but not Dakari?

  7. Han
    10:19 pm July 6, 2013 Permalink

    I’m pretty sure we’ll be okay at rim protection with Willie, Dakari, Marcus, Randle, Poythress, and our taller-than-average guards. We should be better at steals this year, though that depends on how much the guys buy into defense. If the guys bring half the heart of Noel, we’ll be lucky, too.

    5) Cal frequently said he expected to do 10 years at UK. He’s amended that a couple times saying he may feel so good helping kids achieve their dreams that he feels like staying, but it’s a huge drain the way he recruits and coaches. He’s basically warned us he may burn out/want to try the next challenge.

    Also, he recruited the greatest recruiting class of all time. If we manage to go 40-0, the only challenge after that is to repeat with more new players. Unless the one-and-done system changes, Cal will continue to be under a lot of stress to learn and manage a new team every year. It’s stress he took upon himself (both his system/recruiting style and the choice to come to UK), but it’s stress he doesn’t expect to live with forever.

    Then again, it could all just be talk and he could go to the NBA in 2 years, or he could push for a new arena and new contract and coach here for life on Cal’s Court at Xerox’s Rupp Arena or some such.

  8. TT's Fake Boobs and Rat Face
    10:19 pm July 6, 2013 Permalink

    Uh Well, I know how we could replace Corey…with any available village idiot.

  9. hammer
    10:47 pm July 6, 2013 Permalink

    Mark it down. Cats will never win NCAA without MAJOR contributions from upper classmen..freshmen cannot deal with the physical play and last year proved it. Mere talent does not a great team make. Last year’s team proved that. Required toughness cannot be taught, only learner.

  10. gary
    12:05 am July 7, 2013 Permalink

    maybe…just maybe…..dont quote me on this…..but maybe we could replace Nerlens with another player?

  11. KG
    7:12 am July 7, 2013 Permalink

    Replacing Nerlen’s talent will be very hard. Replacing Nerlens the person is almost impossible.

  12. Time to Move On
    9:44 am July 7, 2013 Permalink

    Great kid and great person…..but one player doesn’t and won’t define a program. He progressed during the season as a defender. Don’t forget, he reacted to what seemed like every head fake and left his feet all the time at the beginning of the season. His offensive skills didn’t strike a fear in other teams either. At the end of the day, it wasn’t as though the team had a good year and we are wondering how they are going to maintain that level. They had a lousy year and Nerlens being on the team, even before his injury, wasn’t enough to overcome their lack of (fill in the blank). Remember, we are now in the world of one & dones and he is done. Time to reload and identify the next freshman to fill Nerlens’ shoes. Rinse and repeat.

  13. katfanatic
    10:14 am July 7, 2013 Permalink

    This really is kinda sad.. Nerlens will be forgotten in 2 years by cat fans he will amount to very little in the NBA his body is fragile and his mind is rotting with the people around him… The only team sorry for drafting him will be the sixers for wasting so much money. He isn’t a good person he does orchestrated pr stunts with kids and takes advantage of women.. Reality is having him gone is the best thing for UK Fans we will be a much better TEAM that’s right a team even his teamates didn’t like nerlens and think he needs to grow up..