NBAPA: Nerlens Noel Extended Interview

Perhaps the top big man in the class of 2013, Nerlens Noel sat down for an extended interview with TDD on Saturday at the NBAPA Top 100 Camp.

So inquiring minds want to know, are you a Kid-n-Play fan, Nerlens, with that haircut you have, or is that just your own style?

Nerlens Noel: It was kinda like something that me and my roommate at school wanted to do, but my favorite tv show is the Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Will Smith had the same haircut. So that kinda influenced me a little bit. I'm kinda a stylish person, so I just decided to go with it.

Are you a native of New England, or did you move there to go to school?

Oh, I grew up in Boston my whole life. I was a HUGE Boston sports fan growing up, ride or die man, I just always watched them.

What's the experience been like for you at your school? How has it helped you as a person and player?

It's been real good, we play a good schedule of teams, there's a lot of opportunities to work hard and we've got a great coach too. One of my teammates, George Niang, he's a great teammate and as a team, we made a great run in the National Tournament and I think we're gonna make a run at it again this year.

Have you always played that real aggressive style on defense?

I've always been like that, I always loved to defend guys, I just think that's a key part if you want to win a game as a team, and I want to win all the time, that's what I focus on.

You mentioned being a big fan of pro sports. Were there college teams that you watched growing up?

I used to watch Boston College when they had Tyrese Rice, just any Boston team I would support.

UCONN's a team that has been mentioned as recruiting you and Coach Calhoun is a Boston native, is that something he talks about with you?

I just talked with them recently on June 15th, but they are in contact with my coach, they've been up to my school to watch me play. I think they are a good school. I've gone to their games before at their school and there are a couple alums of my school in Alex Oriaki and Jamaal Combs was there before he transferred.

Coach Calhoun has discussed retirement before with the media, is that something that he or the coaching staff has talked about with you?

Yeah, it's something that has come up with them with my coaches, but you can't really worry about it, especially since I'm only a rising junior. Maybe when I meet with them I'll ask them about it myself, but they are a great program, so I'll look and see what's going on to see if they are going to stay in the mix with me.

You mentioned the June 15th date of when schools were allowed to contact you over the phone personally, can you share what schools contacted you in that first day?

The first call I got was from Florida, I like Florida as a school, they called me in the morning. I didn't get any calls right at midnight. I also got calls from Pitt, Providence, Texas, Syracuse, then there were others that called that I gotta get back to.

Were there any calls that you took that you were "wowed" by?

Nah, I mean, they were all real cool with me. Like I got a call from Coach Calipari and also from Coach Hopkins at Syracuse, they were both good guys and cool people. I'm definitely looking with all the coaches for what kind of relationship I'm going to have with them, see how things goes.

Were there any schools you were watching during the college season?

Yeah, I was paying attention to a lot of different schools, what kind of offense they run to see if I can fit in.

What do you think is a good fit for you? How do you evaluate?

I think the first thing is defensively, I look to see what kind of defensive role I could play there. I think that's going to be a big part of what I do when I go to college, so I'm looking to see if coaches are defensive coaches. With offensively, I'm looking for uptempo, but I'm also going to do my best to fit in to whatever kind of system they run, so I'm probably going to pick a school where I can tell I can fit into what they are already doing.

What kind of role do you want in college?

I'm not necessarily looking to go to college and completely change what I do, so I don't think I'm looking to go and start putting up a lot of threes or anything like that. I do think I can play on the wing on defense, but I think it's going to start with the fundamentals, which for me is working on my four and five spots.

Did you have any NBA big men here at camp that have been helping you?

Oh yes sir, Samaki Walker has been helping me with positioning down low and he's been giving me confidence to play hard. He's a great guy, he's played with the Lakers, he's won NBA Titles so I know he knows what he's talking about.

Going back to recruiting, you mentioned a lot of Northeast schools recruiting you and Kentucky as well, do you have any schools from the ACC recruiting you?

Yeah, I actually talked with Duke yesterday, one of their assistant coaches, Coach Steve...Coach Wojo is his name. He said they really want me to make a visit to their school and they would love to have me in their program. I'll be looking forward to being recruited by them, Coach K is a great coach, he's got a lot of credentials, I'm really looking forward to learning more about them.

What's your take on Duke and their big men, how much do you know about them?

Yeah, that's something that I look at, I know they have a bunch of pros in the League. Duke, they just stand out, that's one of the best schools, they have had so many good guards and big men as well, I'm going to be looking at them.

Are there schools you are planning on visiting this summer to get a better feel for them?

I'm planning on visiting Florida right after my team plays down in the Nationals in July. I'm looking forward to getting down to Gainesville to check out Florida's campus.

Have you been talking with Coach Donovan, or has it been the assistant coaches?

I've talked with both, but I talked with Coach Donovan first. He's a real good guy, he told me how much he would love to have me and about the past players he's had like Al Horford, Joakim Noah and other big men that he's had in the past that have gone pro.

It sounds like schools who have had bigs like you in the past is a good thing to you, what other schools in your mind have had bigs like you?

Yeah, I think there's other schools who have talked about bigs they have that remind them of me. Like Coach Calipari was telling me about Marcus Camby and how I remind him how similar we are. Coach Hopkins was telling me about David Robinson and how I was similar to him. I'm just appreciative of anytime colleges feel that I remind them of past great players they have had.

Kentucky's a school that's gotten a lot of attention for the big recruiting classes they have brought in recently, is that something that appeals to you, or do you prefer something different?

It really doesn't matter to me, I'm not going to change my decision just because they got a Top Five guy, that doesn't matter to me. I want to go to a school that's good for me, where I know I can contribute right away.

Is that a big deal to you in terms of your decision, having an opportunity to go in right away? Are there other factors that are important to you and your family?

The Big deal to me is are they an honest coaching staff, does he develop his players, what kind of relationship do the coaches have with the players. Those are the big deals to me.

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