<
>

Nerlens the nation's best defender since Oden?

7/12/2011

Is Everett native and Tilton (N.H.) incoming junior center Nerlens Noel the nation's best shot-blocker?

In his "Shooting Three's" column today, ESPN senior basketball recruiting analyst Dave Telep makes the bold declaration. And while he won't go as far as a Bill Russell comparison, as Boston Amateur Basketball Club director Leo Papile did with Boston reporters last fall, Telep does mark some similarities between Noel and a certain former No. 1 overall draft pick.

Telep writes:

The best defensive player in the country isn't a senior. It is junior Nerlens Noel (Everett, Mass./ Tilton).

"He makes everything easy all the time because you know you have a dominant shot-blocker back there," BABC junior point guard Jaylen Brantley (Springfield, Mass./Wilbraham & Monson) said.

The stat sheet said Noel had 12 points and eight boards versus All-Iowa but only three blocks. The fact of the matter is Noel dominated play in the first half where Iowa scored just 12 points. All-Iowa Attacks big three of Marcus Paige, Mike Gesell and Adam Woodbury shot 8-27 from the field. Nerlens was in the neighborhood.

I've heard a lot of people criticize his offense and that's true, he has work to do but he's not a bad offensive player, he's just a superstar on defense. He has the work ethic and the offense will come. Pre-summer, Noel listed UConn, Kansas, Georgetown, Kentucky and Florida. Florida coach Billy Donovan was at his first game and Kentucky coach John Calipari and Kansas coach Bill Self popped in during the contest. You can bet North Carolina coach Roy Williams, who also caught his opener, is interested.

Noel isn't the prospect Greg Oden was at the same age, but it's been that long since high school basketball has seen a natural shot-blocker of that caliber. Anthony Davis was excellent last year but Noel is threatening to join an elite club of rejectors.