Nerlens Noel will take his talents to Kentucky – The Boston Globe High School Sports Blog – Boston.com
Nerlens Noel, shown in a screenshot here during his appearance on ESPNU, decided to attend Kentucky University Wednesday evening.
When all the speculation was over, Nerlens Noel
Syracuse’s run to their first Final Four appearance since the dream season of 2003 fell short on Saturday night, as the Orangemen lost to the Ohio State Buckeyes in the East Regional by a score of 77-70. the loss ended what had been a phenomenal year on the court for Jim Boeheim’s team, as they managed to weather a myriad of off the court issues to compile a 34-3 record, including an astounding 17-1 in conference play (setting a big East record for most conference wins in a season), and a 19-0 mark at the Carrier Dome. Set to lose many of the key contributors from this year’s squad, the program is still well positioned to be a dominant force in college basketball during the 2012-2013 season.
First let’s cover the departed, starting with seniors Scoop Jardine and Kris Joseph. having redshirted his sophomore season, it feels like Scoop has been a part of the program forever. Through the years he had his share of big shots and clutch plays, but also plenty of maddening turnovers and questionable decisions. I haven’t seen Scoop’s name on many draft boards to date, so he might be bringing his game to a court in Europe near you in the future. the stats might not reflect it, but I still think Joseph’s best season was his sophomore year of 2009-2010. In his last two campaigns he drifted further away from the basket, while his zone coverage was often lax at best. it seemed like practically every game he could’ve taken his guy to the rim or done work on the inside, but more often than not he elected to settle for the pull-up jumper. he had a great career overall, but it still feels like he left a few plays out there each game.
Not unexpected, sophomore Dion Waiters declared for the NBA draft on Monday with classmate Fab Melo likely to be right behind him. Waiters was one of the more explosive players in all of college basketball this season, often reminding me of a small version of D-Wade. he came off the bench this year despite being the best player and pro prospect on the team, contributing 12.6 points per game. Melo made enormous strides from his disappointing first year on campus, shedding pounds and becoming a force in the middle for the Orange. he blocked 88 shots and was named the big East defensive player of the year before being ruled academically ineligible prior to the NCAA tournament. Both of these underclassmen will be sorely missed, but the mixture of talented returning players combined with another top flight recruiting class should enable the program to not miss a beat.
The starting guards next year will likely be senior (and three-year starter) Brandon Triche and sophomore Michael Carter-Williams. Triche will be relied on to his increase his scoring output next season, and without Jardine and Waiters there to take a good deal of his minutes this shouldn’t be an issue. Carter-Williams didn’t get much run this year, but with the frame and athleticism of a shooting guard he will definitely give the team a different look at the point in the coming seasons. Redshirt freshmen Trevor Cooney will be backing them up off the bench to a great deal of anticipation. Cooney supposedly has an outside shot comparable to former ‘Cuse greats Andy Rautins and Jason Cipolla, and if he lives up to the hype will provide the automatic outside threat the team has lacked since the departure of Rautins.
The smooth and athletic C.J. Fair will be back to man one of the forward positions, hopefully adding a few more lbs. to his frame while regaining the form he displayed earlier this season. Senior to be James Southerland played great during the first two games of the NCAA tournament, and his outside shooting and size will once again make him an integral part of Boeheim’s rotation.
At the power forward and center position is where Syracuse should be one of the deeper teams in the country next year. Rakeem Christmas will be a sophomore, and after his late season play will hopefully be next year’s Fab Melo in terms of performance improvement from one season to the next. Baye Keita is a reliable backup, providing the team with length and another disruptive 7-footer to throw at opponents. then there is the incoming freshman class of talented bigs. DaJuan Coleman (no relation to the original DC), the #3 ranked center of his class has committed to play for Syracuse. Known for carving out space around the basket with his 275 pound plus physique, Coleman will be a punishing force on the interior from day one. Jerami Grant is a 6-8 four star recruit from Maryland known for his leaping ability and touch around the rim, and there is still a chance that the Orange are going to land 6-10 shot blocking extraordinaire Nerlens Noel. Noel is one of the top recruits (the top recruit according to ESPNU) in the nation, and at this point has narrowed his final decision down to either Syracuse, Kentucky, or Georgetown.
From a record standpoint, it will difficult for next year’s Syracuse team to match the bar set by this year’s squad. There’s no question that this was one of Jimmy B’s best teams ever, as in the face of scandal and lingering questions everything seemed to fall into place on the court for the Orange. however, despite losing a number of key players, the roster of the 2012-2013 Orangemen is shaping up to be even more talented than this season’s squad and could be the one that gets Boeheim back to the Final Four.