Leading up to the 2013 NBA Draft, which takes place Thursday, June 27 in New York, ArizonaSports.com will run features the likely candidates for the Phoenix Suns to consider with their 5th overall selection.
Nerlens Noel - Kentucky - Center
Noel was the top player in the class of 2012 according to Rivals.com, and despite coming from a small school in New Hampshire, the 7-foot phenom was offered scholarships by Georgetown, Syracuse and Kentucky. Noel chose the Wildcats and started for John Calipari's team right away.
In his second collegiate game, Noel played well in a loss to Duke, scoring 16 points, grabbing eight rebounds, blocking three shots and coming up with four steals.
In a game against Mississippi in late January, Noel blocked a school-record 12 shots in an 87-74 win.
As a freshman, Noel was a dominant defensive force, averaging 4.4 blocks per game. It's a figure that would have led the nation if his season wasn't cut short after 24 games with a knee injury suffered in a loss at 7th-ranked Florida in mid-February.
The Wildcats, who were the defending national champs, withered down the stretch without Noel on the floor, going 4-5 and losing to Robert Morris in the first round of the postseason NIT.
Noel Highlight Video
Scouting Report Snippets
Chad Ford of ESPN has Noel ranked as the top prospect in the 2013 draft class, despite his ongoing recovery from the knee injury. His shot-blocking ability stands out as well as passing out of the post position. Ford does wonder if a legitimate NBA center has ever been as light as Noel (206 pounds) and cites that the Kentucky product needs to improve his perimeter game.
Draft Express says Noel is a rare specimen, and at 7-feet tall runs the floor like a guard. They call him a "game-changer" on the defensive side of the floor but knock his offensive game, saying he is "a fairly limited offensive player at this stage of his career, both in terms of instincts and production."
Nerlens Noel Scouting Report
Noel Combine Interview
Noel did not visit with the Phoenix Suns in preparation for the 2013 NBA Draft.