UK Hoops Lands Top Player, Class


AP Sports Writer

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Top prospect Nerlens Noel announced he's

joining Kentucky, bolstering the Wildcats' hopes of defending their

recent national championship and finishing with a fourth

consecutive No. 1 recruiting class.

The 6-foot-10 center from the Tilton School in New Hampshire

selected the Wildcats over Syracuse and Georgetown on Wednesday


"I'll be taking my talents for college to play at the

University of ..." Noel said on ESPNU before turning around in his

chair to show off the "UK" shaved in the back of his signature

flat top hairstyle.

The Wildcats won their eighth title in school history just over

a week ago. Kentucky freshmen Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

and Marquis Teague and sophomores Doron Lamb and Terrence Jones

have until April 29 to decide whether to enter the NBA draft.

But Kentucky coach John Calipari's development of Davis into the

nation's best shot blocker with 186 swats clearly appeared to sway

Noel, who is considered an even better defender than Davis was

coming out of high school.

"I just thought it was the best fit for me personally," Noel

said. "I talked to my mom, she liked it as well, she liked all

three of the schools, but when it came down to it, she liked

Kentucky. She met (Assistant) Coach Orlando (Antigua) and Coach

Calipari and they just had a great idea, just watching on TV what

they do with Anthony Davis. I mean, she thought it was the best fit

for me and I did, too. So, we went with that."

Noel said he could've played for any of the schools that were

among his finalists.

"I thought I could play good at any three of these styles," he


Earlier in the broadcast, Calipari repeated what he's said often

during Kentucky's title run that the school isn't for everyone

because every opponent views games against the Wildcats as a

"Super Bowl" and that he hoped that the five underclassmen along

with departing senior Darius Miller would all be picked in the

first round of June's draft.

"We don't know if all five underclassmen are going to leave,

but you know, if you're a betting man, you're probably saying it

looks like if they all have an opportunity to be first round picks,

they probably will," the coach said.

Calipari had already landed three highly regarded talents in the

fall in guard Archie Goodwin, small forward Alex Poythress and

7-footer Willie Cauley. If all five underclassmen leave, sophomores

Ryan Harrow and Kyle Wiltjer likely will join the starting rotation

with Noel anchoring the middle.

"We've got Kyle Wiltjer coming back, we've got Ryan Harrow who

sat out last year coming back, we've got some other guys in the

program, obviously Archie, Willie and Alex are terrific players,"

Calipari said. "We have the makings of another really good team."

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