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The unfair expectations of Nerlens Noel


With the season that Anthony Davis had this past year it’s beyond fair to put him in the discussion for one of the greatest Kentucky Wildcats ever. The awards say so. He’s a national champion, the national player of the year, and the presumed number one pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. He has more accomplishments in one year than some of the greatest NCAA players had in a four year career. But with all of those accomplishments comes a quick departure to the NBA, as well as a gaping hole left in the middle of Kentucky’s starting lineup just one year after. In comes the newest Wildcat big man, Nerlens Noel, and the unfair pressures of filling the void of Anthony Davis’ mystique. Yes, Noel is one of the best shot blocking prospects to come out of high school in the past ten years. He’s also an outstanding athlete and an underrated ball handler, but let’s be real he’s no Anthony Davis, and he shouldn’t be expected to be.

With being the next talented big man coming to Kentucky directly after Davis’ magical season the comparisons were going to come for Noel. They had to. Soon after committing to playing for the Cats the questions came comparing the two players and Noel kind of shied away from the whole thing.

“He’s a great player. I’ve got respect for him,” Noel said, “but at the end of the day, he’s his own player and I’m my own player. We’re different people. I do understand we play similar, though.”

On the other side of the spectrum some are expecting Noel to be as impactful as Davis, if not more. “He’s way better than Anthony Davis. He’s way better than he was in high school,” said UNC commit Brice Johnson. “He just needs to work on his offensive game a little bit more, because he really doesn’t score like that. But he’s working on it. He’s getting a little better.”

Those are strong words coming from Johnson, a fellow teammate of Noel at yesterday’s Jordan Brand Classic. The performances of Davis and Noel in their respective Jordan Brand Classic games don’t reiterate what Johnson is saying. Davis was named Co-MVP of the 2011 game with a 29 point, 11 rebound, and 4 block stat line. Noel, who got into early foul trouble in yesterday’s game, only contributed 4 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 blocks in a 99-95 East team loss.

Of course the Jordan Brand Classic is not going to be an exact representation of how a players collegiate career and beyond will play out. After all Renardo Sidney was the 2009 MVP. Noel should just be able to start his own path in the blue and white and not be asked to continue Davis’. There is no doubt that Noel has the ability to be a great player but it might not be the same type of great that Davis was. As a fan base I don’t think we should put these unfair expectations on this young kid and realize there won’t probably another Anthony Davis type talent for a long, long time. But even if Noel is shy about living up to individual accomplishments of Davis, he certainly isn’t shy about wanting to win a ninth National Championship for Kentucky.

“I’m looking to come in and make my own name at Kentucky,” Noel said of the Davis comparisons. ” (And) Hopefully I’ll get a ring just like him!”

Article written by Rashawn Franklin

32 Comments for The unfair expectations of Nerlens Noel

  1. gocats
    7:04 pm April 15, 2012 Permalink


  2. cats
    7:11 pm April 15, 2012 Permalink


  3. jpgott2
    7:12 pm April 15, 2012 Permalink

    I believe many share this same sentiment. UK fans and media need to forget the comparisons, and just let Noels be Noels. He will be good, but, it will take some time for him to gain his offensive game. Next year will be fun, but do not have crazy expectations. UK is losing a lot of talent, and experience. They these kids build their own legacies!

    Go Cats!

  4. Shawon
    7:15 pm April 15, 2012 Permalink

    This 60 Minutes tribute to Mike Wallace is pretty interesting. One thing that is for certain is that Wallace like just every single person who was ever a member of the media, had a HUGE ego.

  5. Mike
    7:16 pm April 15, 2012 Permalink

    3). Noels?

  6. john4uk
    7:20 pm April 15, 2012 Permalink

    Nice write.I had the opportunity to see tye “Jordan Band Classic”live last night,and was lucky enough to sit 10 rows behind the East bench.So i got a chance to see Nerlens up close.Things that stood out,he is extremly thin,is very quick to the ball,is capable of blocking any shot within reach,runs the floor exceptionally well,has very quick gands,and ahd the officials let him play would have been a huge factor in the game.

    I hope UK fans judge him on who he is and not compare him to Anthony.Nerlens will be an outstanding player in his own right,and we should sit back,let Cal weave his magic and enjoy the ride.

  7. Dawood Khan
    7:23 pm April 15, 2012 Permalink

    I don’t see Noel being anywhere near as effective as Davis initially. He may develop if he listens to Cal and his Staff.

    But in the early part of the season, he’ll be a defensive presence for certain. Just not as dominant and game changing as was Davis.

    Hopefully, he practices and allows himself to be coached up to the extent that he has a Davis like season near the end.

    That said, there simply aren’t a whole lot of guys with the talent and motivation, instincts, intelligence and athleticism of AD.

  8. tyson
    7:26 pm April 15, 2012 Permalink

    I think comparisons with Wall and Knight hurt Teague. I didn’t see the stats for the end of the year, but Teague had very similar stats to Wall all season, the only difference is he didn’t have the highlight reel plays of Wall. I hope we don’t do that to Noel.

  9. Bradley
    7:33 pm April 15, 2012 Permalink

    Teague did a great job for us this year. His early struggles were no worse than Wall or Knight. We just happen to have a lot of fans who don’t know what they’re watching, but are capable of typing sentences on the internet. Deadly combo when the two are put together.

  10. tdogg40330
    7:47 pm April 15, 2012 Permalink

    #8 I was gonna say the same thing. Why is it so unfair to compare Davis/Noel? but thats all ya heard with Knight/Wall

  11. tom5673
    7:58 pm April 15, 2012 Permalink

    i hope bbn let’s nerlens grow and develop without suffocating comparisons to davis. just like teague, he’s going to make some freshman mistakes. but, let’s all be patient, and let this kid develop into the dominant shot blocking machine he’s capable of being at the top of the college level.
    go cats! come on bennett!

  12. SexnNursinHomes
    7:59 pm April 15, 2012 Permalink

    10- tdogg, just wait there will be some definite morons that will use “NN isn’t AD” when NN has his first bad game as a college player. I swear I hate humans. Well 95% of them anyway.

  13. jpgott2
    8:14 pm April 15, 2012 Permalink

    Sorry 5, Noel. It is an easy mistake.

  14. Delray Cat
    8:18 pm April 15, 2012 Permalink

    Can we let the national writers make these comparisons? Two different people, two different games. Lets let Noel carve his own big blue path. He just commited and already your saying he cant be as great as AD, who the hell knows at this point. The kids a baller, let him do his own thing. Its like saying I like my 3 year old better than my 9 year old. They are my kids, regardless.

  15. CalifCatFan
    8:21 pm April 15, 2012 Permalink

    Relax, the Flat-Top Feller will be a beast.

  16. jpgott2
    8:23 pm April 15, 2012 Permalink

    The funny thing is, the media will feed the Noel is not AD saga, while blaming it on UK fans. It is like Cal told the reporter before the National Championship game, “UK fans do not expect a championship every year! All they want is to be relevant.” There are a lot of misguided expectations by many fans, but they are amplified by the media.

  17. Sully
    8:31 pm April 15, 2012 Permalink

    One name I’m not seeing in all these replies is that of Coach Calipari. If anyone knows the kind of kid that can handle comparisons to former players, it’s Cal. He has guided players through it the last four seasons at point guard: Rose to Evans, Evans to Wall, Wall to Knight, Knight to Teague. He has guided each of those terrific players through the mindless commentary and pressure that goes with replacing a great player. Noel is up to the task, especially with Coach Cal by his side. And to listen to the early comments of Poythress and Goodwin, it’s clear they already understand the “Kentucky”-first orientation that Cal demands; they’ll help the big guy, too. Noel also spent significant time with Davis in New Orleans during the Final Four (NN was there for a high school all star event), and heard first-hand what will be demanded of him and what the benefits will be. He’s going to be terrific. Let’s let this play out, the way Coach Cal orchestrates.

  18. Vtvbyb
    8:36 pm April 15, 2012 Permalink

    We should keep in mind that college basketball next season will be on a level similar to 2010-2011 when no team was dominant. We don’t have to be as good as last year to win it all.

    The overall athleticism could actually be better next year, but it’s really hard to imagine a team being better than the 2012 champs. Getting that level of intensity will be extraordinarily difficult.

  19. Mack
    8:41 pm April 15, 2012 Permalink

    Noel is correct, they are different players and he just needs to be him and not attempt to copy another style.

  20. RunningCat
    8:42 pm April 15, 2012 Permalink

    Anthony Davis is an unusual talent. And he arrived to an incedible environment. He had excellent freshmen teammates, solid experienced talent with Jones and Lamb and the glue, Darius Miller. They were coachable, unselfish, and blossomed. Very unusual accomplishment. Cal coaching should be greatly appreciated.

    Even if they sign Bennett, it will be difficult to get back to final four if all starters go NBA. Even though incoming class is superb, maturing to the point where they compete for National title is a very challenging task.

    If UK wins it back to back under these circumstances, then the NCAA will probably impose some rule regarding one and dones. Call it the Calipari clause.

  21. cracka
    8:52 pm April 15, 2012 Permalink

    ad was a guard who hit a crazy growth spurt, he kept his stroke, though … ad had been a pg, he put on some strength and became more and more comfortable being a big guy … but, he always had a good stroke, jumpers, free throws and ultimately was allowed to step out and drill some 3s … noel cannot shoot, he just can’t … i love the kid, but you cannot compare anybody to anthony davis … nn comes across like a really hard worker, so i’m sure he’ll improve the shot, but it’s not gonna be pretty in the beginning

  22. Mudcreekmark
    8:57 pm April 15, 2012 Permalink

    If all 6 players leave:
    Who are we going to practice against?
    I’m sure Cal has a plan,Bennett or whoever, but we need about 3 or 4 bodies to practice against and hopefully a couple will be big bodies.

  23. Big Blue 66
    8:58 pm April 15, 2012 Permalink

    hey, we all knew Ant D was a freak of nature, but i dont think any of us thought he would be the consistent dominating POY player that we became, so lets just let Cal do his thing with Noel and he will be awesome.

  24. the Big Dog
    9:26 pm April 15, 2012 Permalink

    We need more players. Anthony Bennett would help (or Jefferson if Bennett is stupid enough to go to FLA. But we need for Lamb to stay. I think his role is the one we don’t have covered with new players for next year. Harrow shot 22% for 3 pt and Goodwin didn’t show me anything on his shooting last night.

  25. the Big Dog
    10:19 pm April 15, 2012 Permalink

    FYI-Davis was 13 for 15 with 11 rebounds and 4 blocks last year in this game. It is easy to fall into the trap of comparing the two. Point is that Davis was a very special player.

  26. Dawood Khan
    10:27 pm April 15, 2012 Permalink

    I think with Lamb it’s 50/50. This year, he’ll go late 1st Round.

    If he comes back, he’ll get a year under his belt to shine as a Junior and in Cal’s system, he’ll be able to shine. I believe that will improve his stock.

    It’s really win win for Lamb. Go and start his NBA career path. Stay and get a higher slot in the next draft.

    I’ve read a few places that next years draft will be weaker at his position. That can only help, if true.

    His decision, though.

    Would be awesome if Teague and Lamb both returned and brought home #9 in a repeat.

    Teague would benefit himself in the next draft if he stayed for his Soph campaign as well.

    We’ll see.

  27. 00BBN00
    11:12 pm April 15, 2012 Permalink

    Of course NN isn’t AD. But even though he isn’t going to be the same caliber player as AD, come next march and he will be a beast.

  28. Richard P.
    12:20 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    Davis is going to be the next Sam Bowie. His body is too small to make an impact in the NBA and he won’t be playing against Transy and all the other SEC schools to inflate his stats. I bet he will be out of the league in five years!

  29. the Big Dog
    12:50 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    28: Are you serious or playing Not Jerry Tipton? Sam Bowie broke his leg when he got undercut going up for a layup against Vandy. It took two years to heal. As I recall, foot problems finally put him out of the league. Is Greg Oden’s body too small? what’s he done?

  30. Poysboy
    2:02 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    I think Cal has an offensive monster in Poythress. The kid is wicked good around the rim and if Cal exploits the Godwin, Poythress combination with Wiltjer on the three point line it could be lob city for Noel. Maybe he wil play Noel as a forward with Cauley at center. That’s a lot of length in the post on the defensive end. I would like to see us get Bennett and Jefferson, or at least one of the two. And who knows, after we pick up another top player maybe Lamb and Teague will announce they are staying. I’m hoping it’s not a coincidence they are holding out on committing to the draft. Maybe they don’t want to scare away any possible signees by saying they are staying. My fingers are crossed.

  31. SamKat
    6:15 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    I think the undersell in this message on Nerlens is that Cal and his staff will be molding his talents within the Kentucky effect of Team Building. Coach Cal gets it like lil Ricky never did. Coach Rupp’s legacy is there for us all to see and Coach Cal understands that and thinks always of the Big Blue Nation.

    The Catholic fellow keeps his religion quiet but performs like we all should want to.

  32. Dennis Smith
    12:25 pm April 16, 2012 Permalink

    Well, that pretty much insinuates Noel ISN’T the impact player Davis was. Of course the two guys are different everybody is. But being rated the #1 player out of high school brings with it the responsibility of actually being THE #1 IMPACT PLAYER. Sorry, but the entire article sounds of excuse making.