Nerlens Noel (Everett, Mass./Tilton), the nation’s top overall recruit and best defensive player, has trimmed his list.
“I cut it a little bit today,” Noel said Sunday night. “I took North Carolina off. I didn’t want to delay the process.” A potential March 19 visit to UNC isn’t happening. While Georgetown, Syracuse and Kentucky -- Noel’s final three -- have been with him a long time, the Tar Heels tried to make a run at him following his reclassification. Turns out it was too late. Connecticut was also trimmed from the final list.
“I think I’m getting close,” Noel said. “I think after my mom talks to coaches and Kentucky does an in-home visit. Then Syracuse is on Wednesday and my mom already met with Georgetown when she went with me on my visit.”
Each of the three remaining schools has a different angle with which to approach the shot-swatter. The Wildcats, well, they could be four games away from replacing probable No. 1 NBA draft pick Anthony Davis.
“I don’t like to think like I’m replacing somebody,” Noel said. “I want to go in there and play my own game. I don’t want to replace him and I know we’re similar but I want to go in there and do my own thing.
“Kentucky, when I was there they showed me how good of a job they do with their players and that maybe in 1-2 years in college I could be a professional.”
Then there’s Syracuse. Noel’s always been fond of the Orange. “Syracuse has a great tradition," he said. "Whenever I go there it’s a family thing and I like [Jim] Boeheim and [Mike] Hopkins a lot. Playing with Mike Carter-Williams again would be real good. They do a great job of explaining the place.”
The Hoyas' past is not easily lost on Noel. Some of the game's great shot-blockers roamed the lane under the watchful eye of two generations of Thompsons. From Patrick Ewing all the way through Roy Hibbert, the Hoyas have always loved having an anchor in the middle.
“Georgetown really showed me what they’re about," he said. "I watched video about how they utilized their big men and I can pass the ball and get assists in that system.”