For the last two months I have been following the Nerlens Noel story from a far. For those who are unaware, he is the gentleman to the rocking the sick high top. He is also the #1 high school basketball recruit in the country. Tonight he will announce which school he will grace with his presence for an entire year before he makes the assumed jump to the NBA next year. He is choosing between Georgetown, Kentucky, and Syracuse. Hence why I care so much. Ever since the second that THE University which shall not be named eliminated Syracuse from the tournament, the Nerlens story has consumed me.
I have been pouring over every tweet trying to find hints. If you thing the vast majority of tweets are trivial, and even higher percentage of high school tweets are asinine. One recruit coming to Cuse next year, Jerami Grant (handle: @MooMoo25), has been RTing everyone and anything talking about Nerlens. His friend, and current Cuse player, MCW has also been a main focus of this drama. On top of the Twitter game, Nerlens has even been blogging for ESPN and providing just as few leads there.
With the announcement coming in just a few hours, let’s take a look at the tale of the tape:
Program Established 1903
Head Coach: John Calipari (3rd Year)
Program Established 1906
Head Coach: John Thompson III (8th Year)
Conference: Big East
Syracuse , NY
Program Established 1900
Head Coach: Jim Boeheim (35th Year)
Conference: Big East
Eight-time National Champions (Including 2012)
2090 All-Time Wins (#1 Overall)
15 Final Four Appearances
47 Regular Season Conference Championships
28 Conference Tournament Championships
1 National Championship
1559 All-Time Wins
5 Final Four Appearances
8 Regular Season Conference Championships
10 Conference Tournament Championships
3 National Championships (In fairness, two were before the tournament existed)
1844 All-Time Wins
4 Final Four Appearances
10 Regular Season Conference Championships
5 Conference Tournament Championships
Kentucky: National Champions. Anthony Davis led a superb freshman class the the promise land and there is no denying the impression that must have left on Nerlens. Especially since he was in New Orleans that weekend. (Side Note: One Kentucky fan offered Nerlens his wife.)
Georgetown: 4th Overall in the Big East. Lost their first game in the Big East tournament. “Upset” by NC State in the Third Round of the NCAA Tournament
Syracuse: Big East Regular Season Champions. Lost in the Big East Semifinals to a red hot Cincy team. Lost to The University which shall not be named in the Elite Eight
Potential 2013 Roster:
Kentucky: Darius Miller is graduating. Anthony Davis, MKG, Terrence Jones are probably going pro. That leaves Doron Lamb & Marquis Teague. But since this is Kentucky, they already have three of the Top 100 committed plus they might get Shabazz Muhammad the #2 recruit in the country.
Georgetown: Losing Henry Sims and Jason Clark. Adding 1 player from the Top 100. Overall a meh team. (Of course I say that as a Syracuse fan, so take that as you will)
Syracuse: Scoop Jardine and Kris Joseph graduated. Dion Waiters & Fab Melo are heading for the draft. With Dion gone, that opens up #3 for Nerlens and Fab leaving opens up the starting center position. Starting point guard Michael Carter Williams is a childhood friend of Nerlens. Also adding two other top 100 players.
Kentucky: Rupp Arena. Capacity 23,500
Georgetown: Verizon Center. Capacity 20,173. But they need Groupon to help sell out.
Syracuse: Carrier Dome. Capacity 34,616
Distance From Home:
Kentucky: 924 Miles
Georgetown: 444 Miles
Syracuse: 318 Miles
Time Spent Recruiting:
Kentucky: Not as long as Syracuse
Georgetown: Not as long as Syracuse
Syracuse: Longer than both Kentucky and Georgetown
Notable Alumni for comparison:
Kentucky: Noel is being called the next Anthony Davis so Kentucky is a logical choice. He wants to win a National Championship and if UK is able to replace all the firepower they will lose, you can’t blame him for heading to Lexington. Anthony Davis was dominant all year and won the NCAA Tournament MOP award.
Georgetown: Ewing. Mourning. Mutombo. Georgetown has a history with dominating big men.
Syracuse: Anthony Davis was the first freshman MOP since…Carmelo Anthony came to Syracuse in 2002 as the #2 recruit in the country and led the Orangemen to the National Title. Not to mention Derrick Coleman and all the other big men that have anchored the vaunted 2-3 zone.
My foolproof extremely biased logic would make it seem like #Noel2Cuse is a foregone conclusion, but anyone with half a brain would know Kentucky has to be the leader in the clubhouse. One of the biggest ways teams recruit against Syracuse is saying that their 2-3 zone doesn’t prepare kids for defense in the NBA, but as Jonny Flynn said “Nobody plays defense in the NBA.” Calipari has excelled at attracting the one and done guys and grooming them for the League.
In my mind I am assuming 75% chance he goes to UK, 20% Cuse, 5% Georgetown. But I remain pessimistically optimistic. Everyone expects him to go to Kentucky, but I am hoping he shocks the world.
ESPN Signing Day Live Blog
7:34 – Turn on the special and the first thing I hear is “Nerlens Noel down to Kentucky” my heart drops before the host continues “, Georgetown, and Syracuse”
7:37 – Calipari interview. Boooooooooooooooo. Says that he had 5 guys go in the first round and that made people want to go to UK. Now he has a title and he hopes 6 guys go in the first round this year. Student Athletes. Ok.
7:39 – Really hope Nerlens mocks LeBron and says “I’m taking my talents to ______”
7:40 – Nerlens interview. What a gentleman. His high top barely fits in his hoodie.
7:50 – Shabazz Muhammad now has the stage. He is down to UK, UCLA, and Duke. He looks like he is already ready for the NBA. But that may just be his black rimmed ironic glasses speaking.
7:52 – Shabazz picks UCLA! They now have the #2 and #4 recruits in the country. Westwood is going crazy. Maybe people don’t automatically pick Kentucky.
7:55 – MCW Tweets: “Okay Okay Okay.” Could that mean Nerlens was only picking UK if Shabazz went there.
7:57 – There are like no commercials in this special.
7:59 – Ed Cooley is a gentleman. He is getting a couple of great guys going to Providence. Maybe one can be the next God Shammgod
8:00 – Jerami Grant aka MooMoo25 makes an appearance with his arm around a cardboard Jim Boeheim.
8:01 – These guys are talking up DaJuan Coleman. Big body to play the middle of the 2-3 zone. I’m getting excited.
8:10 – George Dohrmann is creeping Jmac out with his lazy eye. One eye is looking at him and the other is looking at Rick
8:15 – Supposedly Nerlens is making his announcement at 8:45. I’m bored out of my mind. Just tell me already!
8:24 – Tweet from Pete Thamel: “Nerlens Noel will announce his choice with a logo shaved in his hair. (Hence the hoodie). Some barber in Charlotte has a scoop.”
8:25 – Adam Zagoria is not a gentleman. “Source close to the Syracuse program says Nerlens Noel is “definitely not” picking the Orange”
8:30 – Come on Thamel! “Still not 100-percent sure what Nerlens’s hair says. But it won’t be a Syracuse S, that’s certain. My guess is a G.”
8:44 – I just don’t want him to pick Georgetown. That would be terrible.
8:45 – Oh no. Oh no. Oh no.
8:46 – Boeheim in a high top. Awesome.
8:47 – Noel: “I’m taking my talents to (turns around to reveal Kentucky Logo in his hair)” Well played Nerlens. .gif via SB Nation
8:48 – Changes channel. Hockey time. Damn you Kentucky.