BEFORE THIS SEASON
Statistics at Tilton High School:
Points Per Game: 12.6
Rebounds Per Game: 7.2
Blocks Per Game: 3.9
After picking Kentucky over the likes of Georgetown and Syracuse, Noel was expected to come in and be an defender in the same way Anthony Davis was the year prior. Some even claimed Noel was a better defender and could challenge Davis’ single-season block record.
To be honest, it’s hard to say if Noel truly lived up to the hype, because so many people believed he could the next Anthony Davis, which he clearly was not due to his limited offensive game. Unless Noel caught the ball within 5 feet of the basket, he wan’t a real scoring threat, but as the season wore on, he slowly developed a jump-shot and even improved his free throw %
As for his defense, Noel struggled initially with leaving his feet to soon and bit on a lot of pump-fakes that either caused him to foul or left his man with an easy layup opportunity. But by the time SEC play rolled around, Noel had become the nation’s best shot-blocker by a wide margin, and was the clear front-runner for the National Defensive Player of the Year award.
Noel’s crowning moment came against Ole Miss in Oxford, where he accumulated 12 blocks total, setting a UK single-game record on the way to helping UK score it’s biggest win of the year to that point over a team that came within a layup of being in the NCAA Sweet 16.