(#3) Freshman forward- Kentucky Wildcats
April 10, 1994 (19 years old)
Ht/Wt/Ws: 6’11″ / 218 pounds / 7’4″
2012-2013 Season Statistics
10.5 PPG - 9.5 RPG - 1.6 APG - 4.4 BPG - 2.1 SPG
.590 FG %
.529 FT %
This section of QCS will feature college basketball reporter Johnathan Snyder highlighting 20 NBA Draft prospects in 20 days, starting on May 31, and ending on June 19.
It’s only fitting that I would kick off my 2013 NBA Draft prospect reports with the consensus number one player in the draft. Noel, a 6’11″ athletic center from Kentucky showed that he has all the physical tools to be a star at the next level. It’s a matter of him being able develop the offensive arsenal to make him as effective as possible as well as properly heal from a season-ending torn ACL.
In less than a season at Kentucky, Noel was a dominating force inside especially on the defensive end. He averaged 4.4 blocks per game which was tops in the NCAA and pulled down nearly ten boards per game. It is better to have a player come out of college with a strong defensive game with work being needed on the offensive end rather than vice-versa. Noel’s motor and energy are un-questioned as he was the most athletic and quickest big man in the game last season. With the correct training, and system in place, Noel’s NBA impact can be felt immediately assuming all continues to go well with ACL surgery rehab.
1. Athletic ability: Noel’s monster wingspan of 7’4″ gives him an advantage over anyone who tries to drive the lane when he’s occupying it. His leaping ability combined with his overall athleticism allows him to play high above the rim while blocking shots and rebounding on both ends of the floor.
2. Defense: It’s no secret that defense if the strongest part of Noel’s game and it’s probably the part he takes most pride in. It’s good to see a very young player show so much activity on the defensive end as many young players look to just score, score, and score some more. He ranked T26 in total rebounding in the country with 9.5 per game. His rotations are sound and he’s quickness allows him to get to spots that seem out of reach.
3. Runs the floor: It’s odd to see a player of Noel’s size run the floor like he does. His activity is superb and he is constantly allowing his team to have another option in the paint down the floor. Noel shoots such a high percentage from the floor because most of his baskets are dunks or uncontested layups due to him beating his man down the floor. It all comes down to hustle plays which Noel was not short of at all this past season.
4. High motor: All of Noel’s attributes relate back to his high motor. He plays with such high intensity and energy every play on both ends of the court. Not known for his offensive skills, you would never know by the hustle shown on that end of the floor. That’s an X-factor for any team that can grab Noel in the draft and I assume it will only get better at the next level.
1. Strength: Actually, Noel is a stronger player than most think. Most see a 6’11″ power forward weighing just 218 pounds, but Noel can play much stronger. He’s not the most physical of players and that will have to change. He will have to put on weight in order to bang with those in the Association and compete with those who are the same height.
2. Offensive game: Noel took just under seven shots per game and made almost five. That looks good on paper but Noel can’t make anything outside of about eight feet. He is very limited offensively. He shot under 53 percent from the free throw line and missed badly when he was there. As good as he is on defense, his lack of offensive game may scare teams away and force them to look elsewhere with a top pick. He has trouble finishing through contact and quite frankly, unless it’s an alley-oop, layup, or fast-break, Noel doesn’t usually score. In the NBA, teams will use that against him and double-team other players if Noel isn’t a threat.
3. Weak on the block: This many goes for both ends of court. Noel is too often pushed around and he lets others bully their way to the rim,. He’s not physical enough to force them into tough shots or fadeaway jump shots. On the offensive end, he tries to do too much and plays outside of his limitations. His lack of physicality limits what he can do and plays as an advantage to the opponents because they know he can only do a few things.
4. Doesn’t anticipate: Noel waits for the play to happen. He waits for the perfect player to be open. You can get away with that in college but NBA players will eat you up and increase your turnover average. They’re just too fast, too quick, and too good. Noel needs to learn how to anticipate and see the play develop before it even does. His offensive game will come much easier without even improving if he can do that. The floor will open up and he will have more space to operate.
5. ACL injury: It goes for any player who was injured in college and wants to be drafted – A team needs to trust and be assured that the rehab process if going well and there is a strong chance of the player returning to full strength, if not better than before. While no one knows for certain if he can return successfully from ACL surgery, not even Noel, odds are he will. But until he does, it will be a concern for teams going forward.
Check out Johnathan’s 2013 NBA Draft “Big Board” being released June 22nd, and his final mock draft, June 24th.