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By Brett Bibbins | @BBibbins_Kernel
Draft day has arrived and Nerlens Noel’s position in the draft is in question more than ever. But, the status of his health is not, according to the team holding the first overall pick.
Before Noel suffered a torn ACL, which ended his first and only college season after 24 games, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year was widely regarded as the consensus top overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.
Some recent mock drafts have Noel dropping out of the top slot due to the injury, which has kept the SEC Freshman of the Year sidelined during all pre-draft workouts.
Rather than working out for any teams, the 6-foot-11 center has gone through a series of meetings with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards, teams that have the first, second and third overall picks.
Cleveland’s medical staff evaluated Noel’s knee during his most recent meeting with the Cavaliers. Noel said they had no concerns with his injured knee.
“The doctor said everything was perfect,” Noel said to Kyle Tucker of the Louisville Courier-Journal. “All three teams I’ve been to said it looks 100 percent fine and I’m definitely ahead of schedule. It’s all been positive feedback.”
Many draft analysts believe that the only thing holding the Cavaliers back from drafting Noel with the first overall pick is whether or not they would be willing to wait to utilize his talents.
Chad Ford of ESPN was quoted saying asking, “Can they be patient? And when they talk about being patient, how patient do they have to be? If he’s back for half the year, how much can he play? What can he do? I feel like that’s what they’re trying to figure out right now.”
If the Cavaliers do not take Noel with the top pick, draft experts believe any one of a number of other players could fit the bill for Cleveland if they don’t trade the chance to draft first overall to another team.
Potential candidates for first draft picks are: Ben McLemore of Kansas, Victor Oladipo of Indiana, Otto Porter of Georgetown, Alex Len of Maryland and Anthony Bennett of University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Regardless of whether Noel joins John Wall (2010) and Anthony Davis (2012) on the list of ex-Cats to be drafted first overall, the Massachusetts native will be able to put his injury troubles behind him.
“I’m looking forward to a strong comeback,” Noel said to Tucker. “It’s been a long time coming.”
The 2013 NBA Draft will be televised on ESPN live at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 27 from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.