UNC Basketball Recruiting: The Nerlens Noel Debate

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I have to admit Ben has presented a strong case for Noel in Carolina. Before I get into my side of this debate I want to make an obvious statement. Norlens Noel would be awesome for UNC, he would dominate, it would be great to have him on the roster.  As a lifelong UNC Tar Heel fan, I try and look at the big picture.  Ben makes some great points about the impact Noel would make in Chapel Hill and I agree with him 100%.

However Ben said it all when he pointed out that Noel would be a one and done guy.  Anybody remember John Wall?  Wall, grew up in NC and despite what he may tell you now, grew up a Tar Heels fan.  He didn’t sign on to Kentucky until Roy Williams confirmed after brief contact with him that he wouldn’t be offered a scholarship.  Now I do believe that Wall’s character was a big reason for that.  The other side of the coin was the obvious fact that he would be turning pro after his freshman season.  Remember, nobody knew Kendall Marshall was going to be the stud he is today during Wall’s recruitment.  In fact, Marshall wasn’t even placed into the starting lineup at the beginning of the year.  So essentially, Roy chose Larry Drew III and an unproven freshman he wasn’t comfortable starting right away over Wall.  Casual fans may point to the fact that Roy went hard after Harrison Barnes during his recruitment.  Barnes was thought my many to be a one and done player himself.  But if you listened to the young man, he didn’t see himself that way.  He picked UNC for it’s academic program as much as he did the basketball program.  He said repeatedly that he didn’t see himself as a one and done.  That’s why he’s different and his case is unique.

Don’t get me wrong, the picture Ben painted above would be a lot of fun.  Can you imagine John Henson pairing with Noel in the starting lineup with a more polished James McAdoo coming off the pine?  Carolina has had some great inside combinations but Henson/Noel/McAdoo would go down as an all time great trio of bigs.  But what about the development of everybody else?   Roy has already secured commitments from four high quality players in the 2012 class and the group is already one of the best in the nation.  Among the four player class is two big men.  Joel James and Brice Johnson, both four star recruits with a ton of upside.  Bringing in Noel would stunt their growth as they would barley see the floor.  Henson and Noel would play close to 30 minutes per night each with McAdoo scooping up the rest of the minutes in the paint.

And what about Desmond Hubert?  He’s not a superstar, but he is a former three star recruit with length and athleticism that can help this team down the road.  He’s already shown he can rebound and hustles hard.  He needs playing time if he’s going to develop into anything but a end of the bench, 4-8 minutes per game player.  Same with Jackson Simmons, I’m not a big fan of Simmons and I wasn’t happy when Roy gave him a scholarship this year.  Simmons was originally a preferred walk on who got a scholarship when Roy had an extra to give after he closed the books on the 2011 recruiting class.  If we’re going to bury these guys on the bench then why did we give them scholarships in the first place?

Which brings me to my last point.  I laid out a dream scenario in my recent breakdown of the 2012 recruiting class.  To sum it up, if the Heels land Noel bringing the 2012 class to five outstanding players.  Then Marshall, Henson, Barnes all stay next season, the team would be increadibly deep and scary at every single position.  PG-Marshall/Paige/Strickland SG-Bullock/Strickland/Hairston SF-Barnes/Tokoto/Hairston PF-Henson/McAdoo/Johnson C-Noel/James.  That’s 12 scholarship players right there.  Add in Hubert and Simmons and Carolina would be over with 14 scholarships (NCAA allows 13 per team).  Then when you look at the next year, what if Marshall stays for his senior year, McAdoo stays for his junior campaign and only John Henson goes pro?  What if Noel isn’t a one and done, what if he gets hurt or plays below standard and decides to stay for his sophomore year?  With a stacked 2013 class, Roy would be very limited in what he could do to improve that class.  For starters Troy Williams a top flight star considering Carolina would have to go elsewhere and Roy wouldn’t have the ability to go after anyone else.

So while it would be great in 2012 to see Norlens Noel wearing Carolina blue.  It doesn’t make sense for the long term development of the team.
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