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USA Today Honors Nerlens Noel and Contemplates His Future

Photo by Dave Spencer

The typical USA Today will feature an icon, of some sort, in the upper left hand corner of each of its sections, depending on what the respective section’s top story happens to be.

On this Valentine’s Day, the national newspaper has chosen to honor freshman big man Nerlens Noel to complement its story about Noel’s future in the wake of his season-ending knee injury Tuesday night. The sports section features the image of a high-top fade in its upper left corner.

I have yet to read the article–titled “What Now?”–but I can’t help but wonder if it will cover Noel’s clear options. He will either enter the NBA draft–then walk up, on crutches, and shake NBA commissioner David Stern’s hand when his name is called–or he’ll get healthy and suit up for a sophomore season at the University of Kentucky.

Chances are he won’t choose the latter.

The NBA drafts on potential. And Nerlens Noel will be healthy again. Since this kid has nothing but upside, I can’t imagine a team would pass on him because of this injury. He can be ready to go for anyone by the end of 2013, or even later if necessary. NBA Team X won’t care. Whoever it is will patiently allow him to heal and then have the services of a burgeoning superstar.

Should Noel opt to return to UK, the risk once again exists of another injury. And perhaps it could be even worse, even more damaging to his long-term professional prospects.

I doubt it’s a chance he’d want to take.

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