Nerlens Noel, the freshman forward/center for Kentucky, has a fantastic name and great haircut. Aside from that, he is a hell of a basketball player and has been developing for his future career in the NBA. Noel followed Anthony Davis' footsteps to Kentucky to be the next defensive center to win over NBA scouts league-wide.
Tuesday night, his fate may have been altered. And I would argue that not only was Noel's fate altered but possibly college basketball as a whole. Noel landed awkwardly on his knee after aggressively pursuing a fast break attempt. He was screaming in pain and was helped off the court by his teammates. Even without knowing the extent of his injury, the reality is that this injury could have major effects.
"One and done" has become a phrase that is linked to college basketball and the way it is viewed. The top few recruits every year are known to only have interested in their one year of college as a stepping stone to their career in the NBA. Noel was believed to be one of those players. Some had him projected to be the number 1 draft pick in the upcoming draft.
How will his injury impact his draft stock?
General managers in the league have seen many horror stories unfold in front of their eyes. Portland is all too familiar with drafting guys with knee injuries. Need I mention names? (Brandon Roy, Greg Oden). More recently the Boston Celtics drafted Jared Sullinger who had red flags about his back injury history. Sullinger is now out for the season with that same injury.
The awareness to injury history and the crazy amount of money these athletes make, the more and more these kids are not going to want to attend school for a year. I know I wouldn't want to risk my future and millions to play for a school I have no allegiance to.
I have been fairly undecided on this topic of whether or not a kid should be required to go to college or not but seeing Noel writhing in pain on that court swayed me to believe that these kids should be free to choose for themselves.
Garrett Thornton is on Twitter. Follow him at @PortlandGarrett