Or at least that’s the opinion of ESPN’s Jay Bilas in an insider subscription piece, written with Chad Ford, ranking the nation’s “five most overrated prospects in college basketball.”
Bilas discusses Noel first in the piece, and to be fair, he makes the point that this does not mean Noel will fail to reach his lofty potential. In fact, most of the dissertation on the UK freshman deals with player rankings and how we no longer give players time to justify those rankings.
Consider Noel’s numbers and performance so far. Halfway through his freshman season, Noel is averaging 10.8 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.7 blocks, 2.7 steals and 1.9 assists per game while shooting 58 percent from the floor and 58 percent from the line on 3.9 attempts per contest. Noel is the only player taller than 6-foot-5 who ranks in the top 30 in the nation in steals, and is the only player in the top 30 in the country in both steals and blocks.
Contrast that with the freshman season of Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing. In his first season at Georgetown, Ewing averaged 12.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.2 blocks, 1.08 steals and 0.6 assists per game while shooting 63 percent from the floor and 62 percent from the line on 4.5 attempts per game.
Does the fact Noel’s numbers are comparable and in some categories superior to Ewing’s numbers indicate that Noel is as good or will be as good as Ewing? Of course not. However, it underscores that this is not a race, and today’s “overrated” player can be tomorrow’s hot prospect.