IC talks to David Noel about playing hoops at UNC

DURHAM, NC -- David Noel talked about his decision to play basketball as a Tar Heel next year following a come-from-behind tournament win, in which he scored the winning basket with just a few seconds remaining. Southern H.S. trailed East Chapel Hill H.S. 61-51 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but came roaring back to win 74-72. Noel scored 27 points.

Coach Levi Beckwith

It seems like David Noel is getting more notoriety, lately, in regards to his basketball ability, whereas many Carolina fans have always considered him a football player. Why do you think he has decided to play basketball?

"Well, that's what he loves to do. I think when a kid has to make a decision between football and basketball, and he believes he's equally good, he's probably going to choose basketball.

"A lot of people feel like because I'm the basketball coach, I'm going to encourage him to play. I feel like he should play football. He feels like he wants to play basketball – and he's an outstanding basketball player. I think because of his work ethic, he can accomplish anything he wants to.

"I think the biggest problem is that not a lot of people have seen David play. Now, they are coming to watch King, Perry, and Simon in our conference, and they are starting to see him too."

Do you think he has reached his potential in basketball?

"Not at all. He hasn't spent a whole lot of time in the off-season as much as we would like him to. When you play three or four months of football, it's difficult to come off of the football field and play basketball.

"Football season is over in December. You can come back about one week before practice, and you are ready to play. Basketball doesn't work that way."

He could have gotten a free ride with a football scholarship, and he's decided to pay his own way his first year to play basketball?


I know you said that you recommended that he play football. The fact that he's willing to pay says something about how much he wants to play basketball.

"One of the things I told him was, 'David, whatever you want to do, do it. If you have to pay, just go get loans. So what?' He's got a really good chance to play. With the guys coming in, I think he fits right in.

"One of the things that they see in him is that he can defend. He's probably the best athlete in the state. He can defend and he works tremendously hard."

What have they told him about a scholarship in following years? Does he have to earn one, or is it guaranteed?

"It's already guaranteed. David is the kind of kid that he won't take that for granted. He'll go in there and work and make the Carolina coaches very happy."

David Noel

Can you pronounce your last name?

"It's No-EL. It's like [the word] 'No' and the letter 'L.'"

I've heard about David Noel, the football player. Now, all of a sudden, you are getting recognition for your basketball ability. Why are you getting this recognition, now?

"I'm not sure, but I'm glad to have it because basketball is my main sport – like I told everybody from day one. I'm glad it has come to basketball, because that is what I want to do in college is play basketball."

You could get a free ride on a football scholarship, and you've decided to pay your own way the first year?

"Yes, sir. You can't go through something that you really don't want to do. When your heart is not in it, that's not the best thing for you. My heart is in basketball. Even though I'm going to have to pay my own way my first year, that's fine with me. As long as I'm doing something I love to do, which is play basketball, I'll take it any way I can get it."

I think a lot of the Carolina football fans feel like the basketball team stole you away from the football team.

"That's not the case. It was all up to me. Coach Doherty never pressured me into chosing between football and basketball. It was just that I sat down with my parents and my sister, and I talked to them. We weighed the pro's and con's of the situation, and the pro's came out to be that I love basketball the most, so that's what I went with."

If you signed a football scholarship, you could play both.

"Yeah, but I really don't want to do both in college, because that might limit me at getting better at one of the sports, and, plus, it might tire me out during the year. I don't want to go out on the basketball court and not be able to produce like I would if I was there 100% of the time."

What do you feel like you can offer the team next year?

"Defense, a player that loves to hustle, and a player that will give his all every time he steps on the court."

Tonight you handled the ball a lot and brought it upcourt. Do you do that all the time, or just tonight?

"It's basically every game, but Coach really wanted me to step up and be a leader during play-off time because this could be my last game. This is my last year, and he wants me to go out and give it my all, and that's what I'm doing."

Do you see yourself fitting in at small forward or guard next year at Carolina?

"They have a lot of great players and a lot of great players coming in – Rashad McCants, Raymond Felton. Raymond can play the one, and Rashad can play the two. They have a great sophomore next year in Jawad Williams. He can play the four, three, or the five. I can fit in at the three, because he can play the four. I think it's a great opportunity."

You've had offers to play basketball on scholarship elsewhere. Are you still committed to play basketball at UNC?


Is anyone trying to change your mind?

"Not really. I've told everybody that Carolina is my choice, and a lot of people have backed off. I have nothing to do with what they do. I'm with Carolina now, and that's where I'm going."

Is the scholarship guaranteed after one year, or do you have to "earn" it to be able to get one your second year?

"The way they explained it to me was that it's guaranteed, but I'm going to do my best, even if it's not guaranteed, to earn it. When I go in, I'm going to to my best to earn a scholarship my second year, and if it happens, great. If it doesn't, I'll keep paying. I'll continue to pay."

It seems like the quality that almost every player has, that Matt is bringing in is athleticism. What has Matt said about the style he wants to play?

"He likes the style of pushing the ball up the court with guys going out there and giving it there all every second they are out there, even if it's only a minute, go out and give it your all that minute and then come out, take a breather, and go right back in and give it your all again.

"That's what Coach Beckwith has instilled in me – to go out and play my best, all-out, and that's what Matt wants us to do, too."

Matt is very intense. I've seen him grab a player by the jersey and get in his face to challenge him. What do you think about that coaching style?

"I love that, because when a coach gets into the game, that's going to fire the players up even more. With Matt getting aggressive with his players, giving it his all, that means the players will step up and give it their all every game."

David Noel goes in for an uncontested, break-away dunk after Southern Durham H.S. forced a turnover agains East Chapel Hill H.S. on Thursday night.

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