Noel considered return to UK, but NBA lure is stronger

In his first meeting with reporters since his season-ending knee injury in February, Nerlens Noel said he considered returning for his sophomore season.

But as his draft status remained solid, he found the lure of the NBA irresistible.

“Yeah, there was a consideration of coming back,” Noel said Tuesday.

Noel added that he decided to enter this year’s NBA Draft after discussing the options with his family.

“(The knee injury) wasn’t going to affect me too much,” he said.

Noel tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during a game at Florida. He said the rehabilitation process was going well. He spoke of Christmas as a target date for his return.

“I love playing here,” he said, calling playing for Kentucky “one of the best experiences of my life.”

Being a player in Rupp Arena is a “once-in-a-lifetime” thing,” Noel said. “I’ll never get to do that again. It was a hard decision. I love the Big Blue. I love Coach Cal (UK Coach John Calipari).”

Noel noted his familiarity with several of the players making up UK’s ballyhooed freshman class of 2013. “I played  with half of those guys when I was in their class,” he said in reference to reclassifying as a high school player. “I know how good they are.  . . .  That would have been a real special team if I stayed.”

But when asked whether he preferred that the system require players to stay in college, say, two or three seasons, Noel blurted out, “Nah.”

Laughter erupted in the Memorial Coliseum space set up for news conferences.