As if the accolades were ever going to stop for Tilton (N.H.) big man Nerlens Noel, they just continue to roll in.
The Boston Amateur Basketball Club passed along this note this morning from Five-Star Basketball:
NEW YORK CITY — Tabbed the "best shot blocker" he's ever played against by No. 1 Houston Defenders' Andrew Harrison, BABC's Five-Star rated center Nerlens Noel is the runaway winner for our inaugural Summer Defensive Player of the Year award.
"I'm really honored and grateful to win the award," Noel told Five-Star. "It means a lot to me."
The slender 6-foot-10 giant turned away 55 shots over 11 games in Nike EYBL play for an average of 5.0 per contest. And when the Peach Jam title was on the line against Memphis YOMCA, Noel recorded 10 boards (five defensive), a half-dozen blocks and four steals in an 84-67 win, justifying the age-old cliche that 'defense wins championships.'
But, that wasn't Noel's most memorable defensive outing.
"The play that stands out the most is when I blocked a Team Takeover shot in the last minute to win the 16U AAU National Championship [in Orlando]," he continued. "It was the second year in a row that I had a big block in the final minute."
Noel comes up big when it counts. Splitting his time between 16U and 17U competition, Noel led both BABC squads to multiple spring and summer championships, and a first and second place finish in our Top 25 rankings, respectively.
This "One-man zone" cemented his No. 1 positional ranking for centers in the Class of 2013 by all three major evaluation services - Rivals, Scout and ESPN - with consistent output on the defensive-end throughout the entire spring and summer.
BABC Director and Head Coach, Leo Papile, recently told the Louisville Courier-Journal, "No one has ever been compared to Bill Russell, but I said that about this kid [Nerlens Noel] when he was in the eighth grade. He has a basketball brain like no other player that I have ever coached. He’s a special kid."
One opposing summer league coach summed up the big man's defensive prowess this way: "It’s like that wrinkled dollar you keep putting in the machine and it just keeps spitting it out.”
That pretty much says it all.
Award Criteria: Known as a stopper; hard-nosed competitor; winner; always willing to take on a challenge of guarding the opponent’s best player; having the greatest impact on the game and his team from a defensive standpoint.