An optimistic Nerlens Noel spoke to the local media on Tuesday for the first time since late September – the Philadelphia Sixers rookie center said he’s very pleased with the progress made since surgery on March 12, 2013 for a torn left ACL, and claims that he’s jumping higher than ever. Despite Noel’s desire to hoop immediately, however, Sixers fans will more than likely have to wait until the summer and next season to see the big fella in action. Per the Philly Inquirer:

“I am very encouraged,” Noel said after the Sixers practice at PCOM. “Through the past year since I had my injury, I have pushed myself through thick and thin and I had some struggles and I just stayed with it.”

“I definitely feel I worked my butt off to get where I am at now and definitely feel confident I am at my best point and have increased my vertical leap and I have just built building up my body though this past year,” he said.

The Sixers have five games left and if it were up to Noel, he’d be on the court, but he said he understands the Sixers approach.

“Obviously I do want to play,” he said.

“I have been asked that question so many times,” coach Brett Brown said. “I think the later it gets, the more unlikely it is.”

When Noel tweeted 4-4-14, he admits that was the date he wanted to play, when the Sixers were in Boston.

“It was definitely a goal of mine to come back and be cleared by the Sixers by then and I was not, so that is that,” Noel said.

“It is going to be a great summer,” Noel said. “I am putting in a lot of work this summer and bring my game along and keep working and working.”