One day, two decisions, three schools

Nerlens Noel and Shabazz Muhammad are setting things up for a dramatic signing day. Here is a look at the impact of their impending decisions.

There hasn't been this much intrigue going into the late signing period in quite some time. The 2010 class had some late decisions, but everyone knew players such as Trey Zeigler and Ray McCallum were going to play for their fathers, and while the others in the class were highly rated, they weren't the top two players.

This year that is exactly the case as on one day the two top players will make their decisions and at this point three teams seem to really be holding their breath. Shabazz Muhammad and Nerlens Noel each are maintaining a list of three schools right now. For Noel it is Syracuse, Georgetown, and Kentucky. Muhammad has UCLA, Duke, and Kentucky.

While that math tells you five schools are still in the mix, every last bit of information suggests that Muhammad is deciding between UCLA and Kentucky while Noel is down to Georgetown and Kentucky.

The current No. 1 player is Noel. At 6-foot-11 he is an elite athlete, the premier shot blocker in high school basketball, and an overall game changer. His presence will be felt immediately no matter what school he chooses.

Now the question is how would Noel's commitment impact each of his seemingly final two teams.

If Noel selects Kentucky it would be business as usual in Lexington. The Wildcats have to replace Anthony Davis who will be the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft this year. While Noel isn't as skilled as Davis on the offensive end, defensively he would again give the Wildcats the top defensive player in the country.

Also given Noel's ability to run the floor as well as his developing offensive game, he would fit in immediately with what Kentucky is trying to do. Kentucky also has a commitment from Willie Cauley, but Noel is like Cauley, just better in every way. The minutes would be there, and if they landed Noel, Kentucky would again be a top two or three team and would have the anchor and potential No. 1 pick in the 2013 draft.

Georgetown also is losing a big time center, so losing out on Noel would really hurt their cause. None of the bigs currently on their roster would be considered shot blockers, and given that their backcourt isn't full of lockdown defenders, Georgetown would likely take a giant step back on defense if Noel did select Kentucky.

Now if Noel selects Georgetown it would be a different deal. The Hoyas would have the anchor to their defense, and though they play a lot of zone which means less coming from the weakside to block shots, Noel would have the ability to really stay in the paint and impact everything that comes in the lane. Add in that offensively Noel would give the Hoyas a huge offensive rebounding presence and it would be a major addition.

Given that Nate Lubick likes to stretch the floor at the power forward and players such as Greg Whittington and Otto Porter are more comfortable in the mid-range, Noel would give the Hoyas one of the longest frontcourts in the country, and would make it nearly impossible to get shots off.

Kentucky would take a hit without Noel. Make no mistake about it, they are confident in Cauley and what he can do, but with so many minutes available in the frontcourt, Kentucky needs a true center to step in. Foul trouble could be a huge factor without another quality body like Noel, and the margin for error would be virtually nothing in terms of a repeat championship.

When it comes to the decision of Muhammad the decision could be profound on two of the premier programs in the history of college basketball.

Quite honestly UCLA needs Muhammad. The Bruins have put in more time, more effort, and have rested their future more on his commitment than any other school. UCLA already has Kyle Anderson, but adding Muhammad with him would bring UCLA back.

Head Coach Ben Howland has put everything he has into getting Muhammad. With him, Anderson, Josh Smith, the Wear twins, Tyler Lamb, and Jordan Adams, the Bruins would once again be a Final Four contender and all would be right in the world in Westwood.

However if the Bruins miss on Muhammad, they will lack serious firepower on the wing. Lamb is solid and Norman Powell can do some nice things, but without a potential All-American like Muhammad, the Bruins will again not be considered amongst the nation's elite, and more disappointing seasons could mean the seat Howland sits on at UCLA would get mighty toasty.

The line between a contract extension and a contract termination in college basketball can be very thin. Muhammad is so good and will make such an impact that he could once again make Howland a genius, but also it is possible if the Bruins don't get him that things will be very tense in Pauley Pavilion heading into the 2012-13 season.

In terms of the Kentucky Wildcats, Muhammad is also important. Word is that Doron Lamb is looking to head to the NBA and obviously Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Darius Miller both will move on. With that there is the need for a pure scorer as well as size on the wing.

Muhammad could team with Alex Poythress to give the Wildcats one of the best forward combos in the country. All week at the McDonald's All-American game Poythress and Muhammad were the two best and most complete players. Putting them on the wing at the same time could be flat out dangerous.

Without Muhammad, Kentucky would still have athletes in Archie Goodwin and Poythress and depth in Jon Hood, but they would be missing that no brainer NBA top overall pick type of talent that is needed to overcome youth.

While Kentucky no doubt won't be hurting without Muhammad, their lineup looks a heck of a lot scarier with him, and clearly there are minutes to be had.

Overall it will be a very long day for many of the coaches waiting on the decisions of Noel and Muhammad. The possibilities are endless and it is hard to say for sure the impact that will be seen, but one thing is for sure, there is a lot of drama coming down to the end with these two potential superstar players.

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