Nerlens Noel, the high school basketball star who is expected to replace Anthony Davis at center for Kentucky next season, is under heavy scrutiny from the NCAA. Pete Thamel, first at the New York Times, and now at Sports Illustrated, is on the trail:
two NCAA enforcement officials traveled to Noel’s New Hampshire prep school for a three-hour meeting in early August. The NCAA’s questions focused on the cast of characters that surrounded Noel’s recruitment and how Noel paid for his unofficial visits
Thamel, public enemy No. 1 in Lexington, Kentucky (sorry, Jeff Goodman), wrote about Noel in May around the Final Four, and he’s back. There’s certainly smoke around Noel, who I think will be one of the 50 best players in college hoops next season, but so far, no fire.
Kentucky fans want to know why Thamel continues to focus his efforts on Calipari and Kentucky, when UCLA and Ben Howland are waiting for one of their top recruits to be cleared by the NCAA, and there’s an academic scandal unfolding in Chapel Hill. Kentucky fans won’t want to hear it, but the answer’s pretty simple: Marcus Camby and Derrick Rose.
Calipari hasn’t been found of any wrongdoing at Kentucky. Maybe he’s built up so much cred with high school stars over the last few years (who puts more players in the NBA?), he doesn’t have to skirt the rules to bring in the elite teenage talent. The last big Thamel-led inquiry into the Wildcats focused on Eric Bledsoe. It turns out there was some impropriety around his grade changes in high school, but nothing was done by the NCAA.