The official word is that Nerlens Noel is a rookie, just as Blake Griffin was a rookie in his second season and David Robinson was a rookie about 2 ½ years after his final college game. The NBA ruled on this a long time ago.
Meanwhile, back in the real world …
Noel didn’t play last season, his regularly scheduled initiation to the pros, but he did travel with the Philadelphia 76ers to adjust to the road routine, attended practices and film sessions to get a running start for when he could play, and he spent hours with coach Brett Brown, the Philadelphia assistants and in an NBA weight program. They talked nutrition and opponents to emulate.
But Noel is technically a rookie because he didn’t play a game for the 76ers last season. He spent it recovering from a knee injury suffered in his one-and-done campaign at Kentucky, months before Philly got him with the sixth pick in the 2013 Draft as part of a trade with New Orleans. He is a candidate for Rookie of the Year, arguably the leading challenger to Minnesota’s Andrew Wiggins for the top spot, and bound for All-Star weekend in New York for the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge on the basis of the first half of this season