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April 11, 2012

Noel boosts another talented UK class

MORE: 2012 Rivals150 | UCLA gets No. 1

For the last three years, Kentucky has won three straight recruiting titles. This year, they added NCAA national championship to that run.

Now it appears John Calipari and his staff are putting the final touches on what could be the fourth-straight No. 1 recruiting class in the country.

Wednesday night, 6-foot-10 center Nerlens Noel may have pushed the Wildcats 2012 recruiting class to the top when he committed to Calipari's program and showed his devotion by revealing a Kentucky logo shaved into his head to announce his decision on ESPNU.

"I'll be taking my talents for college to play at the University of (Kentucky)," said Noel as he turned his head to reveal a UK logo.

"I just thought it was the best fit for me personally. I talked to my mom and she liked it as well. She liked all three schools but when it came down to it she liked Kentucky."

Originally expected to be a member of the high school class of 2013, the five-star big man decided in January that he would instead make a move back to his original high school class and be a 2012 prospect.

Frankly, there was nothing to be gained by spending another year in high school and the nation's most dominant shot-blocker was elevated to the No. 2 spot in the final Rivals150 in his new class.

A personable kid who has worn his trademark high-top haircut since bursting onto the scene three summers ago, Noel is a gifted defensive talent. He rockets off the floor to block shots and perhaps even more importantly he's got a gift for either controlling the ensuing rebound himself or directing blocks to teammates to start fast breaks in the other direction. When those fast breaks are started, it's often Noel who ends up finishing them on the other end with violent slams.

While Noel is much more recognized for his ability on the defensive end of the floor, he is no slouch on the offensive end either. Though skinny, he's able to play through contact and his skill package is rapidly developing. He will step out and hit jumpers from between 12 and 17 feet, blows by other big men off of the dribble and is developing a jump hook that he can convert over either shoulder or with either hand.

By adding Noel, the Wildcats have made a major claim to the nation's top recruiting class. In addition to Noel, they already have the nation's eighth ranked player in combo forward Alex Poythress, No. 14 in shooting guard Archie Goodwin and No. 40 in big man Willie Cauley.

Even though Kentucky is sure to lose several players to the NBA in coming weeks, landing Noel and its fourth straight top-ranked recruiting class assures that they will immediately be able to compete for another championship.


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