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Fizz Learns 2013 #1 Big Man Nerlens Noel Will Attend Syracuse’s Madness

The Orange is in hot pursuit of the nation’s top-ranked 2013 center Nerlens Noel, and a source has informed The Fizz the junior from Tilton, New Hampshire will visit campus this weekend and attend Midnight Madness.

Syracuse has had its issues cementing this year’s ’12 class, is it too early to look ahead more than a year from now? Not for this coaching staff. Recruiting never sleeps and the efforts in building relationships always overlaps between classes.

If you plan on heading to the Carrier Dome tomorrow night, the 6-foot-10, 205 pounder won’t be very hard to spot, and not just because of his height.

There was once a time when Noel would have faced much heavier competition in this department, but by modern day standards, he sports an unbeatable hi-top fade. He might not be a natural 7-footer just yet, but his hair easily vaults him over that plateau (if that counts for anything).

Oh right, his basketball skills. The reason he’s the best class of 2013 center is a refreshing one. Noel brings a true defense-first approach to the game. His shot-blocking ability is unparalleled in his class.

Noel’s high school coach, Marcus O’Neil, stopped by Orange Fizz Radio recently. The man in charge of the Tilton School hoops program values Noel’s unique game.

“Everyone wants to play offense and you have a lot of guys whose transition on the offensive end is better than their transition back on defense. Nerlens is kind of the opposite.”

Syracuse’s is trademark is obviously Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone. But the scheme holds particular significance to a player like Noel whose biggest strength is his shot-blocking. O’Neil says that the zone is an excellent fit for his star big man.

“If you’re playing man-to-man, you always want him in position to be the help-side rotation guy to block the shots. We actually play some 2-3 zone, and it is a good defense for him, because you’ve got a unique talent as a shot-blocker standing right there making sure you can’t get to the rim.”

Noel is primarily a weak-side shot-blocker. As O’Neil alludes, the zone guarantees that Noel will be able to operate that way on nearly every defensive possession. It is easier for a superb shot-blocker to be neutralized if he plays in a man-to-man system.

Previously, there were rumors that Noel would reclassify to the ’12 class, but he now says he’ll definitely play two more years of high school ball.

His coach says Noel’s recruitment is still wide open. He holds an ultra-impressive list of offers. Duke, UConn, Kentucky, Kansas, Florida, and Pitt are all pursuing Noel, in addition to Syracuse.

The Orange was in on the lengthy center recruit very early, though, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if SU finds itself on Noel’s short list soon. If you see a 6-10 dude with a crazy haircut around campus this weekend, make sure to be friendly.

Posted: Andrew Kanell

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