February 12, 2013; Gainesville, FL, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Nerlens Noel (3) and teammates huddle up against the Florida Gators during the first half at the Stephen C. O

Nerlens Noel: Making a difference both on and off the court


Nerlens Noel declared for the NBA draft six days ago, a choice that shouldn’t be shocking to any Big Blue Faithful. After the injury he sustained playing college ball and the fact that he is STILL projected to go #1 in the NBA draft despite not playing a single game after February, post season included, it only makes sense to wave the remainder of his eligibility in favor of an NBA contract. While it’s sad to see a fan favorite go, I wish Nerlens nothing but luck in the NBA. He said via Twitter after he officially declared “No matter where I go, I’ll ALWAYS be a Wildcat!!! Love y’all, Big Blue Nation.”

I have nothing bad what so ever to say about Nerlens Noel. In media interviews he was always cool and collected and gave legitimate answers to questions (which any journalist will tell you isn’t that common). Not only was he an incredible athlete and presented himself well in media, but I think Nerlens is a good person and a good representation of UK. Nelens visited an elementary school in Whitesburg on Friday to talk to the kids about hard work and determination.

Another thing I like about Nerlens, and UK players in general, I have NEVER seen a single player turn down a request for an autograph or picture, never. I heard over the weekend at the Derby Classic a U of L basketball player turned down a group of small kids for an autograph and said, “you trippin” to them. I personally have seen Nerlens on several occasions take pictures with kids and sign things and talk with them. It’s something small for him and it probably is an inconvenience but it means a lot to those kids.

Nerlens also took kids under his wing such as Reese Kemp, a high school student in Lexington with cystic fibrosis, Kelly Melton, a 7-year-old cancer patient and UK fan and Lane Goodwin, another cancer patient.

Through his career at Kentucky, Nerlens Noel won a multitude of awards such as SEC freshman of the year, but he also was named to the SEC community service team for completing over 100 hours of community service during his time at UK. Keep in mind that he did this on top of classes, practices and games. He has visited nursing homes, schools, a Special Olympics event, a children’s basketball camp, Samaritan’s Feet and has visited the UK Children’s Hospital. The team also did the telethon for Sandy relief, which Nerlens was a part of.

Its stories like this that happen off the court that make me a proud member of the Big Blue Nation. Because of his acts, I am a HUGE Nerlens Noel supporter and wish him well in the NBA.

If you want to know more about Reese, Kelly, or Lane and send well wishes or know about their causes follow @Kickinit4Kelly and @ReeseBucketlist on twitter and “like” Thumbs Up For Lane Goodwin on Facebook.

Tags: Basketball Articles Kentucky Wildcats Nerlens Noel

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