Speculations, rumors and being under the public magnifying glass is sewn into the fabric of wearing a Kentucky Wildcat uniform. Each year, a new batch of haters flee to the message boards to publicly trash our head coach, our recruits, and even our fans. Our schedule is too soft, and we’re “afraid” to play in hostile environments. We cheat, we lie, we break rules, and apparently that’s just how we roll when it comes to judging the program from the outside. Is Coach Cal still headed to the Knicks/Nets/Lakers or can we put that to rest? We’ve been called sleazy, cocky, an NBA farm team, and countless accounts of other slander. For incoming freshman Nerlens Noel, he is learning how to deal with all the media hype bearing down on his every move before he even gets to campus.
Standing at a towering 6’11” (not including the hair) all the way from Everett High School in Massachusetts, Nerlens Noel is considered to be the centerpiece of the next crop of Wildcats. Noel has had to publicly shun any comparisons to Anthony Davis, and nobody is going to believe him until he plays his own game in Rupp. From the news about the hair, to his recruitment, to now his eligibility has all come front and center. Don’t believe me? The flat-top itself has a twitter page, no joke.
News broke last week that Noel needed to finish a couple of classes in the summer to be eligible to play at UK this upcoming season. As blown up as the news story has become, I really never found myself to be that concerned about Noel not being able to play. Because of the Enes Kanter situation a couple of years ago, when I hear about eligibility concerns I always reflect on that situation. While the two are completely irrelevant, I believe that Calipari really believed Kanter could be approved to play. In the instance with Noel, Calipari would have cut ties with the big guy if his academics did not fit the bill. Maybe I’m brainwashed enough, so to speak, to drink the kool-aid that coach is pouring. Until further notice, I trust Cal and his decisions when it comes to these players.
Nerlens recently had plenty of struggles while playing in the Adidas Nations camp out in California. A source claimed Noel couldn’t produce any offense whatsoever unless he was spoon-fed right under the basket. Noel admits that he is indeed out of shape and is a better player than what he has been showing as of late. Because of his hard focus on academics, Noel hasn’t been able to maintain the highly regarded physical tools he possesses. Noel was awoken with a call today from the NCAA, stating that he has all the necessary requirements to play basketball for Kentucky next season. On August 19th, he will make his first steps onto campus and begin sharpening those tools and getting back into game ready shape.
I believe that a few weeks at Kentucky will get Noel back into the form he needs to be in to battle the bigs in the SEC. If anyone can mold, polish, groom, and finalize a product like Noel, the staff at Kentucky can produce as good as anyone in the nation. Noel is very much a project, but I don’t mind having that project on our canvass. Calipari will continue the excellence on the court, and emphasize the importance of excellence in the classroom. Go Big Blue!
Filed Under: Basketball
About the Author: Writer for StraitCats.com, lifelong UK fan, college sports enthusiast. Twitter: BrianLewis_SP