Nerlens Noel has officially decided to forgo his remaining three seasons of NCAA eligbility and enter the NBA draft, the University of Kentucky announced today in a press release. "I have loved my time at Kentucky, but I feel that I'm ready to take the next step to the NBA," Noel said in a statement.
Noel, 19, averaged 10.5 PPG, 9.5 RPG, and 4.4 BPG in 24 contests with the Wildcats before suffering a season-ending ACL tear. Despite the injury, the freshman center is still considered a near-lock to be a top-three pick, and could still be the No. 1 overall choice. ESPN.com's Chad Ford wrote last month that, with many top prospects not playing well in the NCAA tournament, Noel's stock may have actually improved, and while he isn't viewed as the consenus No. 1 pick, most NBA teams are leaning in that direction. Ford and Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com both currently have Noel ranked atop their respective big boards.
While Kentucky's press release didn't include word of Noel's agency, at least one report over the weekend suggested that the big man could become Jay-Z's first client when the rapper becomes formally certified as an NBA agent.