Kentucky big man Nerlens Noel will forgo his sophomore season and enter in this year's NBA draft,
"I have loved my time at Kentucky, but I feel that I'm ready to take the next step to the NBA," Noel said in a statement released this morning. "I've learned so much here at UK and am thankful for Coach (John) Calipari, the staff and my teammates for all of their support. I especially appreciate the Big Blue Nation and all of the support, prayers and well-wishes I've received from them during my rehab and decision-making process. I'll always be a Wildcat!"
Despite tearing his ACL, Noel is still widely viewed as the No. 1 overall prospect by many pundits, including ESPN's Chad Ford and DraftExpress. Whether or not he is selected No. 1 will depend on what team wins the NBA lottery Tuesday, May 21.
The freshman big man averaged 10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 4.4 blocks and 2.1 steals per game during his sole campaign as a Kentucky Wildcat.
Whatever team selects him shouldn't feel the urge to rush Noel's recovery time as he just turned 19 five days ago.
John Calipari took to Twitter today to publicly support Noel's professional endeavors.
I support @nerlensnoel3's decision to enter his name in the draft and am excited for him and his future,— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) April 15, 2013
The hard work and will to win he showed on the floor this year and the dedication and attitude he has shown in his rehab ...— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) April 15, 2013
... will only be a reward for him and whatever team drafts him in June.— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) April 15, 2013
[Editor's note: Sorry this is so late getting here, but I have been out of pocket all day and Ken also.]