At the time of his injury, Nerlens Noel was averaging 10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.4 blocks per game. He’s just the fifth Division I freshman in the past 40 seasons to average at least 10 points, nine rebounds and four blocks per game. The previous four players were top-10 picks, including Anthony Davis last season.
In addition to his skills as a shot blocker, Noel averaged 2.1 steals per game -- the only player from a Power Six Conference over the past 10 seasons to average at least two blocks and two steals per game. He's the first since Duke's Shane Battier in 2000-01.
Anthony Davis vs. Nerlens Noel
Taking his entire game into account, Noel is the first player since David Robinson in 1986-87 to average at least 10 points, nine rebounds, four blocks and two steals per game.
Thanks in larger part to Noel’s NCAA-leading 4.4 blocks per game, Kentucky as a team blocks 12.4 percent of its opponents’ shots, tied with St. John’s for the highest percentage in the nation. With Anthony Davis last season, the Wildcats blocked 14.4 percent of their opponents’ shots, which led all of Division I.
More than 100 (101) of Noel’s 106 blocks have come in the paint, and 69 have been at the rim. Noel is recording a higher percentage of his blocks in the paint (95.3 percent) than Davis did last season (83.3 percent).
Noel has kept 85 of his 106 blocks in bounds (80.2 percent), with 57 of those 85 leading to Kentucky defensive rebounds. Overall, 53.8 percent of Noel’s blocks have resulted in Kentucky possessions, and his blocked shots have led to 58 points (2.4 points per game).
Even when he isn’t blocking shots, Noel is an elite post-up defender. He ranks first in the country in fewest points per post-up play allowed, among the 39 players to defend at least 75 plays. He held opponents to 30 percent shooting and forced a turnover on 28 percent of post-up plays, the highest rate in the country.
With Noel out for the year, Kentucky will have to rely on another freshman, Willie Cauley-Stein, who averages 1.7 blocked shots per game despite averaging just 20 minutes per game. However, in SEC play Cauley-Stein has blocked just six shots in seven conference games -- and four of them came in one game.