When all the speculation was over, Nerlens Noel’s decision was in his head the whole time.
The Everett product and the top high school player in the country announced Wednesday the he will sign with the national champion Kentucky Wildcats, ending a whirlwind stretch of college visits and an never-ending guessing game about where the 18-year-old phenom would end up.
He did it, though, by unveiling the Kentucky logo shaved into the back of his signature high-top fade.
In North Carolina for the Jordan Brand Classic, Noel announced the decision in a live signing day special on ESPNU.
The show had more than a hint of LeBron James’s 2010 decision. Noel went so far as to say he would “take my talents” to Lexington.
Noel, who originally transferred from Everett High School to the Tilton School in New Hampshire, shook up the 2012 recruiting class when he decided to reclassify, graduating from Tilton this spring rather than next.
His defensive skills have been compared to Bill Russell by coaches but a more modern-day comparison is Greg Oden, who dominated at Ohio State and was the No. 1 pick in the 2007 NBA draft.
Noel’s professional prospects are already a topic of discussion with many draft experts pegging him as a lottery pick in 2013.
For Kentucky, getting Noel to commit couldn’t be bigger. Under head coach John Calipari, the Wildcats have had three straight No. 1 recruiting classes, mastering the art of turning players who stay for just one season into powerhouse teams.
This past season, freshman center Anthony Davis racked up award after award (consensus first team All-American, national player of the year, and freshman of the year among them), leading Kentucky to its eight national championship.
Noel, considered to be superior to Davis defensively but behind offensively, will presumably slide into the role Davis left behind.
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- Bob Holmes: A Reading resident (Go Rockets!) and Boston College graduate, Holmes is the Boston Globe High School Sports Editor. We remind you now that his weekly picks are often made in jest so everyone just calm down when he picks against Everett for 11 straight weeks. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeHolmes.
- Craig Larson: A native of West Springfield (Leo Durocher anyone? Tim Daggett?) and Curry College graduate (a proud Colonel!), Larson is the sports editor for the Globe's regional sections: South, West and North, as well as a frequent contributor on the college beat. Abington to Xaverian: it all starts with the schools. Have a compelling story idea? Contact him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeLars.
- Zuri Berry: Berry attended the same high school as sports legends O.J. Simpson and Joe DiMaggio. (Guess which one is his hero.) He's a South Boston resident (formerly of Eastie) and the editor of the High School Sports blog as well as the go-to-guy for everything high school sports on Boston.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GlobeSchools for all of the latest updates.
Then there are our winter correspondents:
- Emily McCarthy | @EmilyMcCahthy | BPS correspondent
- Jake Fischer | @GlobeFischer | Boys basketball
- Michelle Fenelon | @michfenelon | Girls basketball
- Andrew MacDougall | @Andy_MacDougall | Boys hockey
- Liz Torres | @etorres446 | Girls hockey
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