After a week of deliberation, the decision has been made to move Tilton (N.H.) School standout Nerlens Noel to No. 1 in the 2012 recruiting class.
Noel, a 6-foot-11 center, started his high school career in the 2012 class, but was held back. Then last Wednesday, Noel opted to officially move back in to his original class. He will head to college this fall.
Once Noel finalized the move, which had been discussed all year, the immediate question many fans began asking is where he would rank in the 2012 class.
This decision was tough for a number of reasons, but none more than the fact that Shabazz Muhammad had earned the No. 1 spot with hard work and consistent improvement over the course of his high school career.
Muhammad added a jump shot to his arsenal, made improvements to his ball handling and turned into one of the dominant wing prospects in high school basketball.
Then on Saturday, Muhammad made it more difficult by dropping 41 points on Whitney Young and showing off the full package.
But with all that said a decision had to be made regarding who we -- Brian Snow, Josh Gershon and myself -- believe is the best player.
Noel has been improving at a ridiculous rate. While often times it can be difficult to compare wings to post prospects, in this case it had to be done.
In the end we gave Noel the nod. He is a dominant force on the defensive player end and is the best shot blocker I’ve seen since I began evaluating prospects.
His timing, athleticism and mobility are tremendous for a guy that stands nearly 7-feet tall. Any time Noel is on the court, the opposition has to be leery when approaching the paint. He is flat out dominant on that end of the floor.
Where his improvement is coming is on the offensive end. It’s evident he’s spent hours working on his offense and his confidence on that end is a night and day difference compared to last year.
Noel runs the floor looking to scorer, catches everything thrown inside to him and he’s developed hook shots and runners in the lane.
Noel’s signature performance came at the Hoop Hall Classic in January when he matched up with Mitch McGary and Brewster Academy. Noel owned the center match up and made a statement that was heard loud and clear throughout the high school basketball community.
Much like Muhammad, Noel is uncommitted and searching for his college destination.
Noel confirmed to Scout.com that he will visit Syracuse this weekend and then will take a visit to Kentucky on February 17th. He’s also considering Connecticut, Providence, Florida, Duke, Georgetown and North Carolina.