Former Kentucky Nerlens Noel was one of the most highly-touted recruits in the nation when he committed to the Wildcats last year. Unfortunately, his season was cut short by a torn ACL he suffered against Florida on Feb. 12.
Prior to the injury, many believed Noel would be the top player taken in the 2013 NBA Draft. Instead, he slipped all the way to No. 6 where he was taken by the New Orleans Pelicans and traded to the Philadelphia 76ers. Earlier this week, we learned that Noel used his draft day slide to help him pick his jersey number with the Sixers.
— Pablo S. Torre (@PabloTorre) July 10, 2013
As Ball Don’t Lie reminded us, the move is not unprecedented. Gilbert Arenas chose to wear jersey No. 0 in the NBA because critics said he would get zero minutes at Arizona in college.
Noel is also from Massachusetts, so his decision may have been made easier when considering Kevin Garnett — a fellow power forward — wore No. 5 for the Boston Celtics. Whatever the case, the Sixers probably don’t care where their rookie draws motivation from. If Noel comes back healthy and his surgically-repaired knee presents no problems, he could end up being a steal outside the top five of the draft.
H/T SLAM Online