Nerlens Noel (born April 10, 1994) is an American professional basketball player who currently plays for the Philadelphia 76ers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). His collegiate basketball career ended in his first season with a tear of his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) at the University of Kentucky. Noel was drafted with the 6th overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft by the New Orleans Pelicans. On July 12, 2013, the Pelicans traded Noel and their 2014 first round draft pick to thePhiladelphia 76ers in exchange for Jrue Holiday and the 76ers' 42nd pick in the 2013 draft, Pierre Jackson.
Noel, a son of Haitian immigrants to the U.S., played one season at the University of Kentucky. He plays center and power forward, and was one of the top high school basketball players in the class of 2012. He is known for his trademark hi-top fade hairstyle.
High school career
Noel spent his first two years of high school at Everett High School. After his sophomore year, he transferred to Tilton Schoolin Tilton, New Hampshire. Noel was originally a part of the class of 2013, but reclassified to the 2012 college recruiting class. He was rated as the #1 player in the class of 2012 by ESPN and Scout.com, and the #2 player by SLAM. Noel was selected to play in the 2012 Nike Hoop Summit and the 2012 Jordan Brand Classic. In addition to his high school career, Noel also played AAU basketball on the same team as future Sixers teammate Michael Carter-Williams. Shortly before his high school graduation, an article in the New York Times described Noel as being hailed as one of the best shot blockers of his generation, although he was also described as having unrefined offensive skills.
High school / college
Nerlens Noel C
The Tilton School
6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)
215 lb (98 kg)
Apr 11, 2012
Scout: Rivals: 247Sports: N/A ESPN grade: 98
After deliberating among several elite college basketball programs, Noel decided in April 2012 that he would be going to the University of Kentucky to play NCAA Division Ibasketball. He made his verbal commitment by revealing the UK logo shaved in the back of his head on national television. Since Noel was well known for his elite shot blocking abilities, fans and the media had high expectations for him to fill the shoes of Anthony Davis, who had just led the Kentucky Wildcats to a national championship in the previous season, was the 2011–2012 National Player of the Year in the NCAA, and set a Kentucky and NCAA freshman single-season block record with 186.
In his third game on November 16, 2012, he accumulated 15 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 block, and 4 steals against Lafayette. On January 12, 2013, although Kentucky lost the game against Texas A&M, Noel recorded 15 points, 11 rebounds, 7 blocks, 6 assists, and 4 steals.
On January 29, 2013, Noel set the UK single-game record with 12 blocks in an 87–74 team victory over #16 Ole Miss. Five of the blocks happened while Noel had four personal fouls, and two of them were slam dunk attempts. The UK school record was previously nine blocks, set by Sam Bowie in 1981 and was then tied by Andre Riddick in 1993. Although he recorded only two points, Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said in the post-game press conference that "[Noel] was the difference in the game" and that he is "an incredible defensive presence." Ole Miss senior forward Murphy Holloway added that he believes Nerlens Noel is the "best shot blocker [he has] played against," including Anthony Davis.
On February 12, 2013, in a game against the Florida Gators, Noel tore the ACL in his left knee after blocking a Florida lay-up, forcing him to sit out the remainder of the season. Before his injury, it was projected that he would be the 1st overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. Despite his injury, Noel decided to declare for the 2013 draft on April 15, 2013.
Noel was honored with many awards, including SEC Freshman Of The Year, SEC Defensive Player Of The Year, SEC First Team, SEC All Fresman Team, SEC Community Service Team. In addition to earning All-SEC first team honors by the league’s coaches, Noel earned first-team honors from the Associated Press, continuing a four-year streak of UK players earning first-team AP honors.
The Wildcats’ 6-foot-11 center was joined by UNLV Runnin' Rebels’s Anthony Bennett, UCLA Bruins’s Shabazz Muhammad, Oklahoma State Cowboys’s Marcus Smart andKansas Jayhawks's Ben McLemore on the Freshman All-America team. He was the fifth UK player under coach John Calipari to earn the honor from the USBWA, joining John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
Noel entered the draft after playing one season at the University of Kentucky and was projected to be one of the top draft picks of the 2013 NBA draft, with many considering Noel the favorite to be picked first in the draft. He was invited to sit in the "green room", a room of the projected top 10–15 collegiate basketball players, during the draft. Noel was selected with the sixth overall pick by the New Orleans Pelicans.
On July 12, 2013, Noel's rights were traded, along with a 2014 first round pick, to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for guard Jrue Holiday and the draft rights to Pierre Jackson. On September 24, 2013, he signed with the 76ers. Although the Sixers' original plan was to have Noel play during the 2013–14 season, Noel missed the entire season as he recovered from knee surgery.
In July 2014, Noel joined the Philadelphia 76ers for the 2014 NBA Summer League. In game one of the 76ers' Orlando Summer League schedule, Noel played his first minutes of professional basketball, scoring a game-high 19 points in the 76ers' 77-83 loss to the Orlando Magic.