University of Kentucky freshman All-America selection Nerlens Noel will forego his sophomore season and enter his name 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. “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!”
Noel, an Everett, Mass., native, led the nation in blocks as he averaged 4.4 rejections per game and tallied 106 in 24 games played. Prior to his season-ending knee injury he was the only player standing taller than 6-foot-5 to rank in the top 30 in steals per outing as he had accumulated 50 steals on the year.
He averaged 10.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. His rebounds and blocked shots led the Southeastern Conference, while he also ranked among the top-10 players in steals per game, defensive rebounds per game, offensive rebounds per game and minutes played per game.
Noel finished the season ranked second in UK single-season history with 106 blocks. His 50 steals ranked as the fifth most in a single season by a freshman. His .590 field-goal percentage is the ninth-best mark in school history, while his steals per game (2.1) is the seventh-best mark in school history.
“I support Nerlens’ decision to enter his name in the draft and am excited for him and his future,” Calipari said. “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 will only be a reward for him and whatever team drafts him in June.”
The NBA Draft lottery is scheduled for Tuesday, May 21, and the 2013 NBA Draft will take place Thursday, June 27.