Everybody wants a piece of Noel

The New York Times takes an illuminating look at the recruitment of ESPN No. 1 basketball prospect and Everett, Mass. native Nerlins Noel, a 6-foot-10 phenom who could be worth at least $10 million in about 16 months when he is eligible for the NBA draft. The long investigative piece, titled "Everbody Wants A Piece Of Nerlens Noel," details the people and forces at play when determining the future of Noel, who has been called the best basketball prospect to come out of Massachusetts since Patrick Ewing.

Noel transferred from Everett to basketball powerhouse Tilton in New Hampshire after his sophomore season, which he repeated at the New Hampshire prep school to put him on track to graduate in 2013. Eventually, Noel decided to try to graduate this season instead.

Here's an excerpt from the Times:

His college choices have narrowed to some of the elite programs in the country: Kentucky, Syracuse, North Carolina, Georgetown and Connecticut.

All make the future seem blindingly bright for Noel. But in the shadowy world of recruiting, it is rarely that simple. The pursuit of Noel includes not just college coaches hoping for a star on the court. There are also fringe figures hoping to latch on to a player seemingly viewed more as a commodity than as a teenager.

“I feel like the kid is a piece of meat right now, and he’s going to be used,” said George Wright-Easy, one of the numerous adults who have mentored Noel over the years. “Grown men are fighting over a kid.”

Those tied on some level with Noel’s recruitment include a former Providence assistant who has been barred from visiting Noel’s prep school, an unemployed high school football coach, a prominent coach of a summer basketball team in Boston, Noel’s high school coach, a former star recruit who believes his career was derailed by bad advice and a low-level N.B.A. agent who works for the group that represents LeBron James, Creative Artists Agency.