You could say that a prep basketball player has finally arrived as a national name to watch when he starts getting compared to an NBA player. Calling someone the next so-and-so is one of the things that makes recruiting fun. And when it’s a Kentucky target being compared to someone legendary, it’s extra special. And that’s what brings us to this Mike DeCourcy article on Nerlens Noel. DeCourcy says the Boston native compares himself to Kevin Garnett and while some have said he reminds them of Marcus Camby, DeCourcy wants to talk about Bill Russell. Whoa.
NBADraft.net has compared Noel to dynamic forward Antonio McDyess, who has enjoyed a terrific 15-year NBA career. That’s just wrong. McDyess only once averaged more than two blocks per game in an NBA season. He rejected only 39 shots as an Alabama freshman; Noel will swat that many before he’s played a dozen college games.
If we want to be both reticent and accurate, we could put Noel in the category of 2000 college player of the year Kenyon Martin because few big men have gotten off the ground so suddenly. But Martin only blossomed at Cincinnati as a senior. Noel could be a factor for a college team now, yet he’s still a few weeks from beginning his junior year of high school at The Tilton School in New Hampshire.
No, if we really want to get it right–making the proper and not just the safe choice–it’s necessary to go straight to the top and bring in the greatest defensive force in the game’s history.
No player since Russell has controlled the lane as a defender with such a combination of timing and athleticism and without needing physical presence thrown into the equation.
“I watch Bill Russell (film) a lot,” Noel told Sporting News. “Whenever they have specials on him, I’ll be really interested in watching him, what he did in the past. It’s a real good thing. He was a real terrific player.”
Take a deep breath. Calm down. And then never ever stop hoping that the 2013 big man chooses Kentucky. Never!