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N2 Eve: Nerlens Noel Says He’ll “Shock the World,” But His Peers Disagree

(Update: 2:24p. Noel published his latest “Nerlens’ Notebook” entry, and discussed all three of his final choices.

“I look at Syracuse and I love the way that the coaches say they’ll use me in their offense. I really like the family atmosphere there and I feel really comfortable there. Syracuse has been on me the longest of all three schools and that is big for me.” 

Ok, this sounds good. We know Michael Carter-Williams has been on him for awhile now. The recruiting skills of Mike Hopkins and co. are once again on display. SU was one of the first schools to take an interest in Anthony Davis as well. He’s also juiced about the potential “Transformers Lineup.”

“Then you’ve got Georgetown, and I really just like everything about them. When I went down there with my mom, it really opened my eyes to what they were all about. I have to factor in what a school like that can do for me, even away from being a basketball player. It’s just a great school and they have a history of developing big men. Georgetown is definitely a great option for me.”

This is discouraging. We have to hear about Georgetown’s academic prowess? I mean, sure compared to Kentucky it’s the Wharton School of Business. But hell, next to Lexington SU might as well be an Ivy. The big man lineage is legit, and the prospect of N2 going for 21-13 in the final Hoyas-Orange Big East game is enough to make you feel ill momentarily.

“Then there’s Kentucky. Of course they’re coming off the national championship, but I’d look more at how I’d be able to fit in and how I’d be used there. I’d factor in what my role would be offensively, like Anthony Davis with a lot of lobs and catching it at the high post and things like that. Defensively, I think it’ll take care of itself.”

Frankly, I still think UK is the overwhelming favorite. That’s been my gut since the party started. Hearing N2 drop a “Davis” and “lots of lobs” in how the Cats would use him, means he’s dreaming of throwing down monster jams on Auburn next season.

“I read the story where all the players gave predictions on where me and Shabazz would go. That was pretty funny. Man, they were sleeping pretty hard on the other schools, but everyone’s entitled to his own opinion.”

Yeah, you mean how none of the 12 players thought you were going to SU? Hey, it is what it is. UK is the clear favorite, and Georgetown has become the flavor of the week. But “sleeping pretty hard” on Syracuse is a good way to put it.

“Any ‘recruiting guy’ who says he has some news from a ‘source’ is funny, too, because the source would have to be me or my mom and they’re not talking to her and I don’t talk to anyone.”

This would appear to be a direct blast at Jon Rothstein, who has cited “sources” multiple times about where Nerlens would land. Funny thing is Roth is probably right, because all along those “sources” pegged him to Lexington. But give Noel credit. He has definitely played this close to the vest, despite doing his own recruiting notebook along the process. While there have been questions about the people surrounding him, he’s handled the entire saga well.

Posted: D.A.

* * *

Nerlens Noel’s peers have spoken, and unfortunately Syracuse’s chances don’t sound encouraging. While N2 tweeted last night he was “Gon shock the world,” his fellow recruits think it won’t be shocking at all. According to an ESPN poll of 12 of the nation’s best top high school stars, 10 believe Noel will chose Kentucky tomorrow night. The other two think he’ll head to arch rival Georgetown. Over the final furious days the consensus from college hoops heads seems to feel SU is third in the three-team race. Even N2’s teammate at Tilton, the top ranked SG in the class of 2014, Wayne Selden, has some bad news for SU fans.

“Kentucky. He’d fit right in and replace Anthony Davis.”

As recently as a week ago it seemed Noel would choose between Orange Nation and Big Blue Nation. But over the past few days, the big man lineage of the Hoyas has started to pick up steam. This is summed up by D.C. forward Kris Jenkins, who says: “Georgetown. That’s where all the big men go to develop.” New York City shooting guard Isaiah Lewis echoes the business side of the decision: “Kentucky. He’s a one-and-done type and that’s where you go for that.” Florida forward Chris Walker also believes UK’s NBA factory makes the most sense: “He saw what Coach Cal did for Anthony Davis and he’ll feel like he can do the same for him. He’ll be one-and-done just like him.” 

Selden’s reasoning of stepping into Davis’ sneakers makes sense. But does the top player in the 2012 recruiting class really care about filling a void? With his talent, he doesn’t have to wait for the spotlight to be vacated. John Garcia Jr. of Scout.com tells The Fizz players like Noel don’t look too much into those circumstances.

“He can go anywhere he wants and play. He’s going to beat out guys who have been on a team for a year or two, like a Rakeem Christmas. He immediately comes in and is ahead of them on the depth chart because of his ability.”

It’s why the notion N2 would wait to see if Davis or Fab Melo would go pro doesn’t hold water. Davis has always been considered a one-and-done star, and the moment Fab was deemed ineligible for the tourney the tea leaves said he would leave for the NBA. John Calipari now has a championship ring on his finger, but for N2 it’s likely going to be about where he can succeed quickly and build his stock for the draft in one season.

Matt Jones is one of the best SG’s in the class of 2013, is committed to Duke, and ran with Nerlens at the High School All-America Game recently in New Orleans. He may shed the most light on Noel’s leanings right now. Jones thinks the big man is heading to UK, and he has some first-hand knowledge.

“I played with him last weekend at a tournament and you should’ve seen him watching Louisville play against Kentucky. It was like he could envision himself there.”

At this point SU might be a long shot, but one reassuring sign is how actively buddy Michael Carter-Williams is still recruiting N2. As you get closer to decision day, relatives and friends will usually back off and allow for some space. But MCW has been recruiting him non-stop, and has even taken to Twitter to reach out to N2. We’ll have to wait until tomorrow night at 7:30p for Nerlens’ decision, but don’t count SU totally out just yet.

Posted: Kevin Fitzgerald

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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