At 6’10” tall, and tack an extra four or five inches for the old-school hi-top haircut, Nerlens Noel is an intimidating force in the paint. But, the reason for the hi-top isn’t nearly as menacing as his shot blocking ability.
“I’m just a fan of ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ with Will Smith,” said Noel with a laugh. “And watching the show growing up influenced me.”
Playing at Tilton (MA), he has made himself the top-ranked center in the Class of 2013, according to ESPN Insider Recruiting, and the third overall prospect. Noel and his AAU team, BABC, took part in Hoop Group’s Providence Jam Fest this past February and the Everett, Massachusetts native is beginning to draw national attention.
After a strong showing recently, head ESPN Recruiting Expert Dave Telep said via Twitter, “It’s certainly time we begin warming up to the notion that Nerlens Noel may be the top prospect in 2013.”
“[Being the top overall prospect] would be a great honor for me,” he said. “But I try to maintain a level of humbleness and keep working hard to hold that spot.”
Major Division I programs are starting to take notice, too.
Noel is drawing interest from Big East schools who traditionally recruit quality big men, including UConn, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and Georgetown. In addition, he is getting looks from Kentucky, UCLA, and Miami, but isn’t leaning toward anyone yet.
“When I’m choosing a school, I’m looking for a good, truthful coach that cares about his players,” says Noel. “I also want a school that fits my style of play.”
And, as a rising junior, that style of play is near-dominant.
Noel’s greatest strength is his long, lean frame, which has allowed him to flourish as a shot blocker on the defensive end and cause matchup problems on offense. With a wingspan larger than most anyone on the court and mobility in the paint, he covers a lot of space and still alters shots when he cannot block them cleanly.
Offensively, he is still developing and polishing a true post identity, but his size has made the sky the limit for him. As he continues to bulk up his 6’10” frame and add offensive moves to his repertoire, he’ll be making even more of an impact at both ends of the floor.
“The biggest thing for me is my strength, putting on weight and working more on my offensive skill set all around.”