Nerlens Noel is new No. 1 in ESPNU 100 

February, 2, 2012
The dust has settled and now Nerlens Noel (Everett, Mass./Tilton School) is the newest member of the Class of 2012. Actually, it’s his second time in the class, but this time it’s for good. He’ll be in college next fall. Regardless, there’s plenty to discuss.

[+] EnlargeNerlens Noel
J.Anthony Roberts/ESPNHS.comNerlens Noel was No. 2 in the 2013 class, but becomes No. 1 in the 2012 class.
We’ll begin with Noel’s ranking. The latest ESPNU 100 had Shabazz Muhammad (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman) at No. 1 and it’s a spot he earned but it’s also one he’s about to forfeit. Noel is the game’s premier defensive player, along the lines of a Greg Oden or Anthony Davis. Offensively, he’s raw but making strides quickly. For anyone who saw him at last month’s HoopHall Classic, there could be little resistance to the change at the top. Muhammad did nothing to lose his spot. The significant difference -- aside from comparing a wing to a center -- is defense. Noel is the most dominant defensive player in high school and his presence changes the complexion of games.

Noel is going to go through what I’ll call “drive-thru recruiting.” It’s going to be quick and efficient. While the decision itself might take a few months, don’t expect a circus to ensue. He is a humble, quiet kid who will take visits and make his decision. He’s not a limelight seeker though the spotlight is cast directly on he and Muhammad from now until the time they decide.