Nerlens Noel had left his mark on Tuesday night’s SEC showdown between Kentucky and Florida.
The game left its mark on him too.
Noel left the contest midway through the second half after slamming into the padding covering one of the basket stanchions. The nation’s premiere shot blocker was tracking down Gators guard Mike Rosario on the fast-break, swatted Rosario’s shot from behind, then collided hard with the base of the hoop. He had to be carried off the court by his teammates, his shrieks of pain audibly picked up by the cameras.
Noel, who departed with 8 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocks, will undergo x-rays at the University of Florida’s Shands Hospital. The O’Connell Center lacks the necessary equipment to conduct thorough evaluations of his knee.
While the extent of Noel’s injury is still unknown — it could just be a badly bruised knee, though his inability to put weight on the joint suggests worse — Florida forward Patric Young, who witnessed the play up close, speculates the high-flying freshman center suffered a dislocation.
“His leg was wobbly, knee looked dislocated,” he said after the game. “It was gruesome. I don’t want to think about it.”
Recovery time for a dislocated knee is typically three to five months, which would effectively end Noel’s Kentucky career but preserve his playing status for the NBA next season. A sure-fire lottery pick, several scouting services have Noel pegged as the top NBA draft prospect.