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Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel Tears ACL; Likely Still Top 5 NBA Lottery Pick

SI’s Ben Golliver on Nerlens Noel’s NBA prospects after the Freshman star tears his ACL:

Kentucky announced Wednesday that center Nerlens Noel, regarded as one of the top prospects in the 2013 NBA draft, tore the ACL in his left knee during a Tuesday loss to Florida, an injury that will end his freshman season.

“Minor setback for a MAJOR comeback!,” Noel tweeted on Wednesday. “I love you all and can’t thank y’all enough for the prayers.”

There is never a good time and place for an ACL injury but this is about as bad as it gets. Noel was less than five months away from the 2013 draft, in which he has been regarded as a likely top-three pick, and perhaps the No. 1 overall selection. His injury generally carries a nine-to-12 month recovery, forcing him to choose between returning to Kentucky for his sophomore season, joining the team midseason once he’s healthy, or taking his chances by declaring for the draft.

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