07.20.20 | Newsletter
Hoop history: Nerlens Noel
A player who is one of 14 to earn USA TODAY National Player of the Year honors and play in the Culligan City of Palms Classic, but may not be one of the first names shouted by fans is Nerlens Noel.
The 6-foot-10 center played for Tilton (N.H.) School during the 2012 Classic. At the time, he was rated the top player in the class of 2012 by ESPN.
Noel earned a basketball scholarship to the University of Kentucky and immediately made an impact, setting the UK single-game record with 12 blocks in a win over Ole Miss. But his collegiate career ended less than a month later when he tore his ACL in a game against Florida.
He took his skills to the NBA and was the sixth overall pick of the New Orleans Pelicans in the 2013 draft. His rights were later traded to the Philadelphia 76ers. In 2014, he made his NBA debut, but injuries have kept him from being a full-time performer. He did have 20 points and nine rebounds in a game against Sacramento that year. In 2017, he was traded to the Dallas Mavericks and in his first start tied a career high with 17 rebounds. In 2018, he signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder and had 20 points and 15 rebounds in a win over the Phoenix Suns. He has played 55 games for the Thunder during the COVID-19-interupted season, averaging 7.7 points a game.