Big Blue Nation Linkapalooza: Nerlens Noel is a Wildcat Edition

Shabazz Muhammad takes his game to Westwood, and Nerlens Noel brings his shot blocking to Lexington.

Last night, the #1, or #2 (depending on which recruiting service you believe) recruit in the nation picked the Kentucky Wildcats as his his choice for college, and college basketball. We have reaction from ... well, pretty much everywhere, including the Syracuse Orange and Georgetown Hoyas, understandably less than totally pleased.

Kentucky did lose #1, or #2 (depending on which recruiting service you believe) recruit Shabazz Muhammad to Ben Howland and the UCLA Bruins, which is a big boost for Howland's sagging fortunes there. Along with Kyle Anderson, Muhammad gives UCLA its best recruiting class in years, and makes them a contender for the Pac 12 title if not the NCAA Tournament championship.

What does Noel's matriculation mean for Kentucky? Well, we'll have a lot more on that later. Right now, the links:


No. 1 recruit Nerlens Noel chooses to play for Kentucky Wildcats // ESPN

"Coach Cal recruited me real hard. He is a good person who cares about his players, he helps them reach their goals and the team's goals," Noel said. "They play as a unit and are very unselfish. Also the fans were incredible on my visit. They are behind the program 100 percent."

Okay, Nerlens, we know it was the guy who bribed you with his wife that was the tipping point. Just come right out and say it. :-)


9 NCAA Reforms That Need to Happen // Online Colleges

I agree with some, such as multi-year scholarships, stipends, and NCAA-run playoffs for football. I think others such transparency, student athlete voice in governance, informal workout monitoring and tying some disbursements to academic performance should be considered. I'm skeptical of their suggestions overhauling enforcement (I think that should be done by simplifying the rulebook) and student-athlete self marketing.


Better for Top Recruit Nerlens Noel: Kentucky or Syracuse?

A little late, but still worth reading. Turned out to be right.


Big man Nerlens Noel chooses Kentucky // Kentucky.com

"We've got the makings of another really good team," Calipari said at the beginning of the made-for-ESPN special. "We sign a couple of more and we're on our way."

Two words, coach; you rock!


Kentucky is the choice for Noel // The Boston Globe

While he was Noel’s coach at Everett, John DiBiaso tried to make inroads for the 6-foot-10-inch center at Georgetown, but he couldn’t deny that if Noel was eyeing the NBA, Kentucky was the obvious option.

Kentucky is just really tough to recruit against when it comes to high profile players.


Rivals.com Basketball Recruiting // Noel boosts another talented UK class

By adding Noel, the Wildcats have made a major claim to the nation's top recruiting class. In addition to Noel, they already have the nation's eighth ranked player in combo forward Alex Poythress, No. 14 in shooting guard Archie Goodwin and No. 40 in big man Willie Cauley.

In the end, all your recruits are belong to us. Well, most of them, anyway.


Five Questions After National Signing Day In College Basketball; UCLA Is Back After Landing Shabazz Muhammad // CBS New York


Top recruit Noel chooses Kentucky over Syracuse, Georgetown // The Daily Orange

Snow said Noel, a talented shot blocker, can completely dominate a game without scoring. And the top recruit will slide right into the Kentucky lineup to replace national player of the year Anthony Davis, who will likely declare for the NBA Draft. Davis is projected as the No. 1 overall pick in a mock draft on draftexpress.com.

Needless to say, the Orange and Hoyas are... less than pleased.


Decision 2012 Open Thread: Georgetown, Kentucky, and Syracuse Await Nerlens Noel // Casual Hoya

You have to read the comments in this thread. Their use of animated gifs is ... amazing, and hilarious.


Poliquin: With Nerlens Noel headed for Kentucky, Syracuse will happily "settle" for its Big Three // syracuse.com

It would have been nice. No, wait. It would have been terrific if Nerlens Noel had been able to look past those bright Kentucky lights and anoint our town as his layover en route to the National Basketball Association.

"Bright Kentucky lights." Just reading that warms the cockles of my heart.


Coach Cal strikes again: Noel makes Kentucky a favorite in ’13 // CollegeBasketballTalk

Calipari has turned Kentucky into a machine. He barely needs to make a pitch at this point; his program sells itself. He brings in the top players. He coaches them up throughout the season. He gets them competitive on a national level. He sends them off to the NBA. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

All I can say is this -- as it was in the days of Adolph Rupp, so it is now. The "one and done" thing is different, but when it comes to basketball, it's almost like we can audition for scholarships again.


NCAA puts Baylor on three years' probation // Brownsville Herald

Scott drew suspended for 2 Big 12 games next season plus recruiting restrictions. Some sanctions for the ladies program, also, but their national title looks secure.


Muhammad's choice a shoe-in for Adidas school UCLA // CBSSports.com

Shabazz Muhammad committed to UCLA on Wednesday.

Then came the Adidas comments.

"Shabazz Muhammad to UCLA. Three stripes and Kentucky's out!" -- ESPN's Fran Fraschilla

"Adidas, um I mean UCLA, wins the Shabazz Muhammad Sweepstakes. Shabazz stayed loyal to adidas entire way." -- CBSSports.com's Jeff Goodman

"Shabazz is dumb and adidas is evil." -- Everybody else

Yes, I paraphrased the last quote and attributed it to millions. But you get the point. Seems college basketball observers from coast to coast -- and especially on the East Coast -- were suddenly very interested in the idea that a shoe company might've played a role in swaying an elite prospect toward a school, which was, well, interesting considering it happens all the time.

He's absolutely right, and it works both ways.


Syracuse Basketball Recruiting: Is Nerlens Noel What Orange Fans Really Want? // SB Nation New York

In my opinion, the best "basketball fit" for Noel is Kentucky. It seems that the Wildcats and coach Calipari know exactly what they're doing when it comes to one-and-done players. The fan base embraces these players better than any in the nation, and win-or-lose understand how college hoops and the new recruiting process works.

Word.


Nerlens Noel and the Future of the 2013 Kentucky Wildcat Basketball Team // Wildcat Blue Nation

Lost in all of the Nerlens Noel hub-bub was Shabazz Muhammad. His decision to go to UCLA was quickly overshadowed by Noel’s decision to come to Kentucky. The ESPNU signing day special shifted gears and Shabazz was almost an afterthought.

Interesting. I didn't see it, but the buzz seems to be about UK and Noel, not about Shabazz and UCLA. But it was a great recruiting win for Howland. It's hard to beat Calipari for this type of player, shoe contract or no shoe contract.


Coach Cal wants to know, 'What made this team so special?' // Kentucky Wildcats

Since his arrival just over three years ago, John Calipari has sought to involve the Big Blue Nation in the program it loves so much. Now, he's for perhaps more direct help than ever before.

Check it out. If you have something in mind, leave a comment, you may get picked.


What commits mean to UCLA, Kentucky // ESPN

Kentucky is Kentucky, and UCLA is back.

Those are the two immediate takeaways from Wednesday night’s big college hoops recruiting announcements, when the No. 1 and No. 2 players in the Class of 2012 -- center Nerlens Noel and small forward Shabazz Muhammad -- announced their decisions within an hour of each other live on ESPNU.


Nerlens Noel tweets that Cats need Alex Oriakhi // John Clay's Sidelines

After making his announcement that he would sign with Kentucky, Nerlens Noel took to twitter last night to do some recruiting.

The freshman-to-be center tweeted: "#BBN we needa get @aoriakhi34 to join !! Show him love !! #WeAreUK"

Oriakhi would be a huge addition to this class, as would Bennett. But we lack perimeter shooting to a degree, unless Poythress is even better than I've heard.


How do other hauls compare to Kentucky’s recent classes? // CollegeBasketballTalk

Per Drew Cannon, who’s done work analyzing prospects for Scout.com and Basketball Prospectus, only North Carolina’s 2006 class and Duke’s 2002 class can compare to any of the last four groups Kentucky’s gathered. He places all of the ‘Cats classes ahead of 2007 Ohio State – the Greg Oden-led group that reached the title game – and ’06 Texas, which boasted Kevin Durant, D.J. Augustin, Damion James and Dexter Pittman (!).

The Legend Of Rajon Rondo Grows // CelticsBlog

I don't even know what to say anymore. Rajon Rondo is just on an incredible roll right now. We've seen him put up incredible numbers in a game before, we've seen him get hot (then cold) before, and we've seen him step up in big situations before. But now he just seems to be doing everything on a consistent basis - and that's what's most impressive to me.

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