Nerlens Noel cleared to play
Noel's eligibility came into question this past summer when NCAA officials reportedly began investigating his recruitment process.
King: All-Access With UK Freshmen
Nerlens Noel and his freshman teammates are barely old enough to vote in the upcoming election. But at Kentucky, they are rock stars, the next wave of talent, the next great hope of another national title, writes Jason King. Story
But Kentucky coach John Calipari confirmed Wednesday that the NCAA has cleared Noel's eligibility during an interview on "SportsCenter."
"He's been cleared to practice and cleared to play games," Calipari said during the interview. "Everything's good to go."
SI.com reported in August that two NCAA enforcement officials visited Noel's New Hampshire prep school to ask about the star forward's recruitment process.
The NCAA investigated people involved in Noel's recruitment and Noel's payment for unofficial visits, according to SI.com, which cited "a person with knowledge of the NCAA inquiry." In May, the two NCAA officials also traveled to Noel's high school in Massachusetts.
But NCAA vice president of communications Bob Williams confirmed to ESPN.com's Dana O'Neil that Noel is cleared to practice and compete.
Noel is the top-ranked incoming freshman on the 2012 ESPN 100 and is the favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NBA draft, according to ESPN Insider Chad Ford.
Mike and Mike in the Morning
Kentucky coach John Calipari talks about the mental aspect of sports, how the Wildcats dealt with expectations during their run to an NCAA title, Anthony Davis and more.
"(The challenge) is figuring out how we play," Calipari said Wednesday. "Most coaches will come back and have an idea -- this is what we're going to run, here's how we're going to do it. ... How do you get into that stuff with the team we have? What if I have to play Willie Cauley and Nerlens together -- that's 7-foot and 6-foot-10."
The Wildcats opened the season ranked third in the USA Today coaches' preseason poll, released Wednesday, despite losing the top six players from last season's national championship squad.
Calipari said Wednesday that he expects the Wildcats to struggle early this season as the young players, including Noel, learn how to adapt to the college game.
"It's even hard to practice because when we put (the freshmen) in practice together, they're real good because there's no one to play against," he said during the "SportsCenter" interview. "I like my team, but we're just not going to be that good early. By the end of the year, I think we'll be all right."
MORE MEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL HEADLINES
- No. 7 Duke regroups to escape vs. Clemson
- Iowa State ousts Kansas in Big 12 semifinals
- Syracuse falls to NC State in ACC quarters
- Napier, UConn fend off Cincy to reach final