Nerlens Noel Q+A
SLAM catches up with The Tilton School’s Nerlens Noel.
by Norman Waterman
In New England, they know all about defense on the basketball court. This is the home of Bill Russell, the greatest defensive force ever seen on a basketball floor, and more recently Kevin Garnett, who has carved out a niche as a defensive specialist in an era of offensive play. There may be a new guy for New Englanders to talk about though.
Nerlens Noel, the Everett, Massachusetts native who plays his high school ball at The Tilton School in New Hampshire has become a defensive force and gained national attention in Orlando this summer when he became a one man wrecking crew and blocked 4-shots in 90-seconds to preserve the National Championship win for the 16 & under BABC squad (Boston Amateur Basketball Club). Nerlens, who stands 6-foot 10, is the #3 rated sophomore in the country in almost every poll. SLAM caught up with him to talk about the national title and his high school season so far.
SLAM: So how did it feel to win a National Championship this summer for BABC?
Nerlens Noel: Oh man, it felt great. We really played hard all summer and we are all so close that it was great to pull that out as a team.
SLAM: So how are you feeling? I know you had some injuries this summer you had to recover from? (Noel broke a bone in his leg last spring)
NN: I’m good. I have a tight, sore back but it’s nothing I can’t handle.
SLAM: There are a lot of your BABC teammates are on your high school team too, how’s that going?
NN: It’s good, we are 17-3 so far this year and looking good. Me, Goodluck (Okonoboh), Wayne (Seldon), George (Niang) and (Domonnique) Bull are playing well together because we have that chemistry.
SLAM: What’s the big game coming up for Tilton?
NN: They’re all big games, but looking forward to the Brewster Academy game February 21st.
SLAM: That’s the big one, huh?
NN: Oh yeah, they are undefeated, but we got them at home- Gotta get that Win.
SLAM: So, who do you model your game after?
NN: KG. (Kevin Garnett)- He’s probably my favorite player.
SLAM: What do you like about KG’s game?
NN: His intensity, his desire. I love the way he plays. Love the way he plays D.
SLAM: Anyone else you look at? Anyone else you emulate?
NN: Kevin Durant. I like his game too. He’s big guy like me, but he can shoot so I’m trying to do that too.
SLAM: So I’m gonna to see you stroking some 3’s pretty soon?
NN: (With a laugh) I’m working on it. Working on that jumper.
SLAM: So you had a battle with Andre Drummond (Top Rated Junior in US) the other day, how’s that go?
NN: It was a good game; we played well but came up short.
SLAM: You had 16-points and 15-rebounds, that’s a really good game.
NN: Not good enough. I only had 4-blocks, so I gotta do better next time. Maybe we’ll see them in the Prep School Nationals.
SLAM: Are you and Andre friendly off the floor?
NN: Oh yeah, Dre and me are good friends. We battle on the floor, but we’re cool off of it. He’s a good dude.
SLAM: Ok, I have to ask, what’s up with the “Kid n Play High Top Fade” hairstyle?
NN: Yeah, I’m bringing it back (he starts laughing). Old School.
SLAM: I saw another top sophomore (Kuran Iverson from CT) and he had the old-school Bobby Brown Gumby going before, you rocking that next?
NN: (still laughing) I might have to, might have to.
SLAM: So you played on Sunday at URI, did you make it back to see the Super Bowl?
NN: Yeah, we got back and watched the game with a bunch of friends.
SLAM: Whom’d you pick to win?
NN: I’m a Patriots fan, but I had Green Bay in the big game. Glad they won.
SLAM: So do you do the social media thing: Facebook and Twitter?
NN: Oh yeah. Facebook and I’m on Twitter. Hit me up @nerlensnoel3
SLAM: All of these good friends on the same team, which one of you guys is the smoothest one off the floor?
NN: (laughing loudly) Oh, that’s me no doubt. Me and my man Goodluck.
SLAM: What are you guys doing for fun these days?
Nerlens: We play a lot of NBA 2K11. That and work on our game- that’s all we do.
SLAM: So while you guys are hanging out playing 2K11, whom are you listening to? I’m an old school hip-hop guy, put me up on someone new?
NN: Oh, you gotta check out Moufy. He’s a dude from Boston doing his thing.
SLAM: Sounds good, I’ll check him out.
NN: He’s nice.
SLAM: What schools are you thinking about right now?
NN: I’m not really thinking about schools right now, just focused on getting better. I’ll see who shows interest in me and I’ll go from there.
SLAM: Last thing before I let you go study. I read this summer that you were discussing the possibility of skipping your senior year and going over seas. Is that still on your radar?
NN: No, no over seas for me. Gonna get these championships, that all I’m thinking about.
SLAM: Anything else you want the SLAM readers to know?
NN: I’m just trying to get better everyday. That’s it.
Norman Waterman worked for Bill Mecca and Joe DeSantis while at Quinnipiac University. Having played a key role in recruiting and operations while QU moved from D-2 to D-1, Norm was able to see how players were evaluated for play at all levels of basketball. After graduating from Quinnipiac, Norm stayed close to the game via his numerous ties to AAU teams, College Coaches and talent evaluators while pursuing a career in the private sector. After a successful run as one of the top Construction Equipment salesmen in the country, Norm decided to return to the game he loved as a reporter. Follow Norm on twitter @AquamanCT, at www.nehoopnews.com or on Facebook at NewEngland HoopNews.