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Nerlens Noel wants to visit four schools, but is still “wide open”

Nerlens Noel is the best shot-blocker in the country.

Class of 2013 center Nerlens Noel (Watch List) is hearing from every elite school in the country, but he doesn’t even have a top 15 yet.

“No schools are sticking out right now,” Noel said in a phone interview. “I don’t even have a list yet but I will have one of 15 schools by early August.”

Even though Noel doesn’t know which schools he is most interested in yet, he does have a good idea of what he’s looking for in his potential college. Said Noel, “I’m looking for a good system overall, a good coaching staff – an honest staff, a place that develops pros and a school that has good people around their system… just an overall good place to be.”

Noel also has a good relationship with a couple of coaches in particular even though it is still early in the recruiting process. “I have good relationships with [assistant] coach [Mike] Hopkins from Syracuse and [assistant] coach [Kevin] Ollie from UConn,” he says. Both of those coaches’ hard work have paid off since Noel is interested in visiting Syracuse a second time in the beginning of August as well as taking a trip to Connecticut when he gets back up to the Boston area [where he lives].

Other colleges that he’s interested in taking a closer look at are the University of Florida and Miami (FL) when he’s down in that area for Nationals and the Super Showcase. Besides those four programs, Noel named Providence, Kentucky, Texas and Texas Tech as schools that called him the first day when coaches were allowed to make contact with class of 2013 prospects. Florida called him first but the impact that has seems to be minimal. “It does mean something that they made me a priority,” Noel said, “but other schools did call me after them.”

Noel also talked to Duke and North Carolina via Facebook that same day and says Duke and Kansas are coming after him the hardest because of all the Facebook messages their assistant coaches send him. Duke is also mentioned when Noel was asked which fan base is recruiting him the hardest.

“The craziest fans on the internet are Kentucky, Duke, Florida and North Carolina,” he says. “It’s good because they show their dedicated but all colleges have dedicated fans whether they use the internet or not.”

Although the nearby school isn’t considered a favorite in Noel’s recruitment, Providence has done something that sticks out in his mind. “When I went to Midnight Madness at Providence with some of my teammates, they had our names on the back of their jerseys,” says Noel. “I liked that, it was interesting.”

Chris Walker tweeted yesterday about playing with Noel.

Another interesting thing to consider is the possibility that Noel and fellow class of 2013 star power forward Chris Walker (Watch List) will pair up when they go to college. When we spoke with Walker last week, he expressed clear interest in teaming up with Noel and even tweeted yesterday about how much he wants to get together (shown above), but Noel isn’t sure how likely that is.

“There’s no specific player I want to play with,” says Noel, “but Chris Walker would be a good player to play with. I have a good relationship with him.”

Noel also spoke on what some coaches are telling him. “[Kentucky head] coach [John] Calipari compared me to Marcus Camby and Syracuse compared me to David Robinson,” Noel says. “I’m just honored to be compared to those greats and it motivates me to keep working harder.”

With all of these coaches contacting Noel and making all kinds of recruiting pitches, it’s necessary that he has somebody to help him go through the process. “One of my mentors [Everett High School head coach] Errol Randolph has helped me the most in the recruiting process,” says Noel. “He’s helped me sort out some of the schools and not get overwhelmed, he keeps everything in check.”

Noel gets the opportunity to experience a lot of cool things because he is a highly rated prospect as well, and he names attending the Nike LeBron James Skills Academy as his favorite moment so far. “Going to the LeBron Academy was a great experience,” says Noel. “It was a dream come true to play with LeBron.

“He’s just a real cool dude, he’s very humble and the media does a lot to take away from him and make him a public enemy. He’s nothing like that, he’s a real good person and what the media says about him isn’t true at all.”

As for a timetable, although Noel knows when he wants to put his list together he has no idea when he wants to commit or narrow down his schools. “I’m not going to commit anytime soon,” Noel says. “I’m just going to wait it out and see how things go.”

*Photo courtesy of Daryl Paunil, National Recruiting Spotlight’s photographer.

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