Nerlens Noel has suffered an ACL tear that will keep the Kentucky Wildcats forward out for the remainder of his freshman season — and likely his entire college career.
Widely regarded as the top pick in April’s NBA draft, Noel was considered a one-and-done player for Kentucky. But after an MRI confirmed that the injury he suffered against the Florida Gators was indeed a season-ending ACL tear, that may become one-half-and-done.
Nerlens Noel is expected to have surgery within the next two to three weeks, ESPN reported.
The injury occurred when the 6-foot-10 Noel landed awkwardly when chasing down Florida’s Mike Rosario on a fast break. Noel blocked the shot, but landed hard on his left knee and then slammed his right knee into the upright basket support. He screamed in pain and grabbed his left knee.
“I’m physically sick right now,” said Kentucky head coach John Calipari before learning the extent of the injury.
The Wildcats would go on to lose the game 69-52, and are in danger of falling out of the top 25.
Nerlens Noel had been averaging 10.6 points per game and an NCAA-best 4.5 blocks per game. He was second in the SEC with 9.6 rebounds per game.
While he’s still expected to enter the NBA draft this year, Nerlens Noel’s draft stock is now in question, Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress told USA Today.
“It’s a tough call,” Givony said. “I don’t think you can really say anything definitive at this point. Not every NBA GM will react the same way. Some will look at it as not the end of the world; he’ll be back by December or January.
“At the end of the day, he’s still the best big guy on the board. If you need a center … Noel brings dramatically different things (than any other center). GMs are going to want a thorough examination, but I have to imagine he’s going to recover and be just fine from this.”
What do you think Nerlens Noel’s injury will do to his NBA draft status?