For a few minutes Thursday night, the New Orleans Pelicans were poised to become the Bluegrass State's most-followed NBA team after taking Nerlens Noel with the No. 6 pick in the draft, a move that would have teamed him with former Wildcats Anthony Davis and Darius Miller.
Alas, it didn't last long.
Moments after Noel shook hands with NBA Commissioner David Stern wearing a Pelicans hat, his draft rights were reportedly traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in a deal that sent guard Jrue Holiday and a 2014 first-round pick to New Orleans.
Noel was projected by many to be the No. 1 pick in the draft prior to tearing knee ligaments in a February game at Florida. The injury ended his season with the Cats and apparently caused him to slide out of the top five picks. UNLV's Anthony Bennett, Indiana's Victor Oladipo, Georgetown's Otto Porter, Indiana's Cody Zeller and Maryland's Alex Len were selected 1 through 5 ahead of Noel.
Noel started all 24 games for the Wildcats before his injury. He averaged 10.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game while leading the nation in blocked shots at 4.42 per game. He also led UK with 50 steals en route to first-team All-SEC honors.
Kentucky has produced 12 first-round draft picks since John Calipari arrived in Lexington in 2009. Noel joins John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, Eric Bledsoe, Daniel Orton, Enes Kanter, Brandon Knight, Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrrence Jones and Marquis Teague as first-round picks who played for the Wildcats under Calipari.
Calipari also has four players selected in the second round during his time at UK: Josh Harrellson, DeAndre Liggins, Doron Lamb and Miller.
Another Wildcat, freshman guard Archie Goodwin, could be selected tonight in either round.
Noel drafted No. 6, dealt to Philly
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