The Darkhorse: Will Georgetown’s Big Man Lineage Draw Nerlens Noel to DC?

We dissect how much the Hoyas history factors in with SNY’s Adam Zagoria.

With just days remaining in the Nerlens Noel sweepstakes it would be unwise to count out Georgetown just yet. When the highly sought-after recruit makes his decision on Wednesday, the consensus has long been the Hoyas are on the outside looking in on Kentucky and Syracuse. But Georgetown is making a very strong late push to land the Tilton (NH) star. Reportedly, N2 is still destined to land in Big Blue Nation. But SNY’s Adam Zagoria tells The Fizz John Thompson III’s squad has an edge.

“Georgetown is in it a lot more than people think. Their offense runs through the big men a lot, and Nerlens has observed that and likes that a lot. They still have a legitimate chance to get him.”

It may be difficult for Nerlens to pass up an offensive scheme in DC that’s based solely around him. Zagoria believes the long history of Hoya big men (Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo, Roy Hibbert and Greg Monroe) could be very important to Noel. He even had a special Hoya visitor come watch him play at the All-American Championship game in New Orleans this past weekend.

“John Thompson Jr. was in New Orleans on Sunday. He bought a ticket, and I don’t think he would have been there unless he thought Georgetown had a shot.”

It would be an interesting reversal if Nerlens did choose Georgetown. Early in his high school career, Noel’s head coach reached out to the Hoyas and attempted to connect the recruit to JT3. Instead, it upset N2’s family and alienated the coach from the process. Here’s an excerpt from the explosive New York Times article weeks ago about Noel’s recruitment.

DiBiaso said that a rift developed between him and the Noel family after he made the call, perhaps an early sign of others attempting to influence the young star. “The big thing I echoed to the parents when I did speak with them was that I’ve been here 33 years; I’m not looking for anything.” He let out a long sigh and said, “They chose a different tack and we lost touch.”

The potential Transformers lineup has Orange Nation salivating, but Nerlens is playing his decision close to the vest. N2 has done a good job of keeping everyone on their toes and remaining mum until Wednesday’s decision.

It seems crazy. How could Noel pass up two 30-win programs with Final Four aspirations to play for a program that, year after year, gets bounced from the NCAA tournament early? But Nerlens would slide in well to the Hoyas offense and wreak havoc as the next great defensive force, says Zagoria.

“He’s an incredible shot blocker, and there are people who say he is a better shot blocker than Anthony Davis, which is really saying something. He’s able to alter the game on the defensive end and is an incredible athlete.”

Even with the late push from Georgetown, many still believe it’s either SU or UK which have the advantage. Coach Cal has the ring and SU has Michael Carter-Williams. N2’s friendship with MCW is under appreciated, since the Orange guard has been pushing hard the big man to come to the Hill. Syracuse fans could rationalize losing Noel to UK. The Wildcats are a one-and-done factory, and are freshly minted national champions. Losing him to arch-rival Georgetown though, is an altogether different dynamic. Noel would be an in-conference enemy next season for SU’s final run in the Big East. As painful as it is, don’t overlook the hated Hoyas from the mix just yet.

Posted: Kevin Fitzgerald

10 Comments on this Post

  1. KevMonstah

    I think Gtown fans and others are overrating the Big Man U part of recruiting him. First, everyone they’ve mentioned, Ewing, Mourning, Mutombo, Monroe, now Sims, all but Dikembe were four year players, and had a chance to develop.

    Nerlens Noel is not going to develop anything in a single year in school, and he’s not going anywhere to do more than mark time for a year.

    Not saying the history isn’t a factor, or that Gtown is not a reasonable choice, but the “developing his skills” aspect is not going to be a big part of where he goes. It’s a) can I play a lot, b) can I showcase myself, c) can we win.


  2. orangeskin

    I think Georgetown has a solid shot at Noel, and the big man history is a big reason why. Remember that JT, Jr. recruited Patrick Ewing out of Cambridge, MA. Ewing’s family is Jamaican and Noel’s is Haitian (if I remember correctly). I think they are milking that to a tee. It doesn’t hurt that both Hollis Thompson and Henry Sims are gone meaning that Otto Porter is the only returning inside player for the Hoyas. Pete Thamel’s piece in the NY Times a few weeks ago made it clear to me that Nerlens may be more focused on the NBA than being part of an honest to goodness team. I personally think SU fans are overrating the MCW factor. Remember when Noel visited SU? It was the the UConn game. Remember what freshman got into a shouting match with his coach and was benched for the rest of that game and the following couple of games? Yep, it was MCW who was hosting Noel that weekend. Wonder what he said to Nerlens about the benching and JB’s relationship with MCW and whether or not that has stuck in Noel’s craw. Let’s face it, if he and MCW were that close, you’d think he’d have committed to SU by now. Of course he could just enjoy the attention, which is bad for its own reasons. I really don’t see Noel going to SU, but I thought the same about DaJuan Coleman. I’m hoping I’m wrong for the second time. Bottom line: I suspect he commits to UK.

  3. I dont think losing Noel to Gtown would be all to bad. I like our team next year (obviously better with Noel) what could be better than an epic matchup (should be at least 2 next year) with gtown. Noel vs DC 2.0, that would be a good matchup. I rather see Noel go to georgetown instead of Kentucky but obviously seeing him in orange would be best.

  4. All I know is he is not coming to Syracuse.

  5. Carlton

    I dont think hes coming anymore ethier. All im hearin is gtown or uk.

  6. I don’t know, I think I’d rather see him in UK blue. I would hate to see G’Town battle SU next year, with N2 going for 20-10 in a win over DC 2.0 or Rak or whoever he’s matched up against. If you lose Nerlens to UK, you can live with that. They always get those kinds of kids. G’Town? Man….

  7. AnaheimOrange

    If N2 goes to Georgetown, is there any way we can leave for the ACC early? I just don’t like losing recruits to a fellow Big East team…

    Someone said fans are overrating N2’s relationship with MCW. Not really. They are pretty tight. Oh and guess what, DaJaun Coleman and N2 have been in touch lately…

  8. Kev: Absolutely agree. Obviously have to think the reclassification to 2012 class was Nerlens keeping an eye on the 2013 NBA draft.

    Orangeskin: I wouldn’t undermine the MCW friendship too much. Yes, as we’ve been hearing a lot the last 24 hours or so, it seems that it could just be between UK and GTown, but remember Wayne Morgan’s case. Yes, obviously not as highly touted of a prospect, but he too had a close relationship with Brandon Reddish, yet still took his decision down to the final day. These guys love the attention, and in Nerlens’ case, he deserves it. #1 in country.

    Nick: Actually a fun argument to get into…if he couldn’t pick SU, where would Cuse Nation rather see him? I kind of agree it would definitely be fun to see him battle against DC. But, I’m with you here, DA. Just to be safe, let him run to Cal. Wouldn’t see him, wouldn’t play him, wouldn’t be reminded of losing out on big guy.

    And it really isn’t looking good for SU right now. N2’s teammate at Tilton, Wayne Selden told Adam Zagoria he thinks Nerlens will chose Kentucky. He believes he’d “fit right in” and replace Anthony Davis.

    Sigh…2 more days.

  9. USMCvet


    It’s a) can I play a lot, b) can I showcase myself, c) can we win.

    Assuming you’re right,
    a) The Hoyas have no center, he’d be the starter!! Sims graduated. He’d step right in. You lose that argument.

    b) Monroe and Sims, ran the offense!! LOL! Sims was not even on anyone’s draft board. Now he is. Do you not even bother to watch GU basketball???????? Jeff Green showcased the entire offense, and led the Hoyas to the Final Four in 07 after destroying Duke in the regular season; and UNC in the Elite Eight. The pivot IS the focus in GU’s offense!!! You’re a laugh a minute. You lose that argument even worse.

    c) The Hoyas went 24-9 and are regularly ranked in the AP and ESPN polls. They are, however, in the toughest league in the Nation: The BEAST. The Hoyas showed this year, that they could win without a superstar like Monroe or Green.

    As an aside, most people think that both UK and Syracuse are going to be under NCAA sanctions. Calipari left UMASS under a cloud of NCAA sanctions and hasn’t changed his tune yet. No need to even explain about Syracuse: The death knell is all but ringing for them.

    With respect to your first GU comment\attack: I completely disagree. If Noel is a “one and done” player: HE WILL NEED ALL OF THE DEVELOPMENT HE CAN GET. THE ONLY PLACE HE CAN GET THAT IS AT GEORGETOWN. He will be able to play pickup games with Ewing, who is a Top 50 of All-Time; Mutombo, who broke the NBA shotblocking record for a single playoff game series when he played for Denver; Mourning’s record is outrageous.

    The bottom line is Noel is also (as of today) talking about “not wanting to live up to the pressure of someone like Davis. It would be too much. At GU, he could step in and be himself. At Kentucky, the pressure will be to win a title or else, it’s a complete failure on his part. That’s how he feels. The Hoyas have no center. What would make you think he wouldn’t be able to step right in and be that pivot? You didn’t even bother to check to see that Sims graduated, else you wouldn’t have said (a) above. Your argument has holes ALL OVER the place and your a,b,c only serve to give GU the upper hand, regardless of whether he goes there or not. IF he doesn’t, he is wasting his time. He will be rich, but ride the bench because he isn’t as developed as he should be. UK’s cupboard is empty; they lost pretty much everyone that’s anyone. GU has a GREAT team to surround Noel with. He said that is huge to him too. Plus, JT Sr, coming to visit carries more weight than Calipari. Georgetown should send Ewing, Mourning and Mutombo to close the deal with this kid. UK can’t send anyone to compete with those three coming through the door!

  10. AnaheimOrange

    USMCvet, interesting read and you made quite the case that N2 should choose Georgetown over Kentucky. I’d like to know your reasoning why you think he should/would choose Syracuse over the other teams in play for his commitment?

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