Hometown: Everett, Mass.
2011-12 Averages: 12.6 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 3.9 bpg at Tilton School, Tilton, N.H.
Career Averages: incoming freshman
The Backstory: Kentucky doesn't worry about things like losing players to the NBA. Anthony Davis, who in his lone collegiate season, was named SEC Athlete of the Year, Final Four Most Outstanding Player and National Player of the Year while setting school- and NCAA-freshman-records with 186 blocks last season. The defending national champs, who lost six players to the 2012 NBA Draft, simply pull another blue-chip from their talent pool. Enter Nerlens Noel, USA Today's National High School Player of the Year last year and the top-rated player and best center prospect according to ESPNU and Scout.com. Noel, who averaged 12.6 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.9 blocks per game as a senior at Tilton School, got off to a good start, blocking seven shots in the school's Blue-White Scrimmage. (That was three more than Davis had in last year's scrimmage, by the way.) He added nine points, eight rebounds and three steals and did most of his damage while playing through lower-back pain after taking a hard fall early in the game. The 6-10, 228-pound forward already has the respect of SEC coaches and media, as he earned three votes in preseason SEC Player of the Year balloting and a berth on the preseason All-SEC First Team. The Wildcats, who start the season at No. 3, plan to put Noel and 7-0 center Willie Cauley-Stein, two members of their nationally top-ranked recruiting class, in the paint. It's little wonder they are preseason favorites to take home SEC regular-season and Tournament titles for the third time in four years.
Key Stat: 2: Noel, who made his final choice of Kentucky over Syracuse and Georgetown, has already been declared the No. 2 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft by nbadraft.net.
Did You Know: Nerlens' older brothers are both collegiate athletes, but neither plays basketball. Jim, the oldest of the three, is a 6-foot-4, 200-pound strong safety for Boston College, where he ranks among the team's top tacklers and interceptors. Rodman, the middle child, stands 6-3, 210, and starts at linebacker for North Carolina State.