Noel fits right in at Kentucky

John Calipari and the Kentucky fans will ask Nerlens Noel to replace Anthony Davis, and while it won't be easy, he seems up for the challenge.

During the 2011-12 season the Kentucky Wildcats has the luxury of using Anthony Davis to anchor the back of their defense. Davis' ability to block shots allowed the Wildcats to have one of the best defenses in college basketball, and next season it will be much of the same.

Currently Nerlens Noel is the No.1 player in the Scout.com 2012 rankings and the reason is because of his dominance on the defensive end. Noel is the premier shot blocker in high school basketball, and at least at a similar stage he is a more advanced defender than Davis was.

Now the Kentucky Wildcats have things rolling. Outside of Shabazz Muhammad, Alex Poythress was the best player all week at the McDonald's All-American Game, and along with Archie Goodwin and Willie Cauley, they make up not only the No. 1 recruiting class but one of the most athletic groups in a long time.

With that athleticism, the four new Wildcats will be asked to fill in for players such as Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, and of course Davis.

Those players dominated because they played hard on defense and as a team on the offensive end. Now with Noel on the backline it looks like history could repeat itself. Davis did a lot for Kentucky, and while Noel might not quite be him, he is the closest thing there is outside of the NBA.

Offensively Noel also fits into Kentucky quite well. Not only do the Wildcats like to run, and no one runs the floor better than Noel at the center position, but also they use their big guy down on the block. Noel isn't a skilled offensive player yet, he is most comfortable down low where he can rebound and score with a jump hook.

Given his athleticism and ability to protect the rim on defense combined with his speed getting baseline-to-baseline, Noel is the perfect fit for what the Wildcats needed in order to make another deep run through the NCAA Tournament.

Overall this gives the Kentucky Wildcats the No. 1 class for a fourth consecutive year. Landing three five-star prospects is impressive and of course having the No. 1 players in the class is a huge coup for Calipari.

The comparisons to Davis will no doubt happen from day for Noel, and while they are similar because of their shot blocking ability, they are also different on the offensive end. Still it is possible Noel has the same type of impact that Davis did this season, and Kentucky fans are hoping that things end the same way next season that they did this year.


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