Despite sustaining a season-ending knee injury on Feb. 12, Nerlens Noel will enter the NBA Draft. The Kentucky forward is ahead of schedule on his ACL rehabilitation and feels prepared to enter the NBA.
The 6-foot-10 freshman still has a good chance at being the No. 1 overall selection. Add another Kentucky superstar to the list of one-and-dones.
Nerlens Noel joined The Dan Patrick Show to discuss the progress of his knee rehabilitation, his mindset during rehabilitation, telling John Calipari he was declaring for the NBA Draft, the chances of him coming back to Kentucky and the one-and-done rule in the NCAA.
Where are we on the rehab of the knee? When do you expect to be back?
“I’m doing a lot of rehab and my physical therapist said I’m ahead of schedule, and I am moving pretty good at the five-week point, so I am just taking it slow and being careful with everything, but I’m ahead of schedule, so I’m planning on being back pretty quick.”
When did you realize how serious this injury was?
“When I went down I was just in shock, when I went down in the Florida game. I mean, I tried to stay strong, and when I got that MRI back I was pretty nervous about hearing it was an ACL. I stayed focused and got my mind together and really tried to stay together, and I knew how hard the rehab was going to be, so it was all a mental thing really.”
What was it like going into John Calipari’s office to tell him you were declaring for the NBA Draft?
“I went to his office and he told me he’d love to have me back. It was early on, just a couple of days after the injury. And he told me it was up to me and we’d have to play in perspective, whether I’d drop a few picks, but I just stayed focused and really analyzed what I had. I really stuck to my physical therapy and I’m ahead of schedule. I thought I made a good decision to declare to the NBA Draft.”
Was there any chance of you coming back to Kentucky?
“Yeah there was, just considering how much I loved playing here and just the atmosphere it had. I just loved having the ‘Big Blue Nation’ fans. It was just a great experience, and that’s something I was really thinking about coming back for, but it was a really tough decision. I thought I made the best decision for myself.”
What do you think of the one-and-done rule?
“I mean, you can’t really do too much about it. It’s the NCAA and NBA thing. I don’t think too bad of it. [Dan Patrick: If you could have come out of high school and either gone to the NBA or played two years at Kentucky what would you have done?] I’d probably say two years at Kentucky, maybe.”