Kentucky freshman center Nerlens Noel will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a torn ACL during Tuesday night’s game at Florida, the school announced Wednesday.
Noel will undergo surgery in the next two to three weeks, likely ending his short-lived college career in Lexington. The top NBA draft prospect in the 2013 class, Noel will have the next eight months to heal up for the upcoming pro season. Typical recovery from ACL tears lasts between six to eight months.
The shot-blocking savant says he ready for the challenge.
Minor setback for a MAJOR comeback!I love you all and can’t thank y’all enough for the prayers.
— Nerlens Noel (@NerlensNoel3) February 13, 2013
Noel leads the nation in blocks (106) and blocks per game (4.4) while ranking second in the SEC in rebounding (9.5 boards per game). The 6-foot-10 pivot was the frontrunner for the national defensive player of the year award and on track to set new school shot-blocking records. He was just off the pace of becoming the first player in NCAA history to average 6.0 blocks and 3.0 steals per 40 minutes.
In his absence, the Wildcats will turn to backup center Willie Cauley-Stein. Cauley-Stein, who recently missed four games himself with a knee injury, is the team’s most efficient scorer at 63-percent. The athletic 7-footer is a minor upgrade over Noel on the offensive end — a bit more polished with a better ability to finish with his back to the basket — albeit a significant downgrade on defense.