Game-day notes: Noel named defensive player of the month

Before we get to Wednesday night’s game against Eastern Michigan, a few items to go over from the Internet in case you’ve missed them:

  • Using numbers to determine the best players of the month, Kentucky freshman forward Nerlens Noel was named ESPN’s defensive player of December. Noel finished in the top 10 in both blocks (4.0 blocks per game) and steals (2.8), while also finishing in the top 25 among rebounders (9.7). According to ESPN, Noel is on pace to become the first player since Houston’s Bo Outlaw in 1992-93 to average 3.5 blocks and 2.5 steals in a season.
  • Noel was also named to Jason King’s All-X-Factor team, a group of players who could make the difference in how far their teams go between now and the end of the season. Noel made the list along with Baylor’s Brady Heslip, North Carolina State’s Lorenzo Brown, UNLV’s Mike Moser, Minnesota’s Trevor Mbake and Syracuse’s James Southerland. Here is an excerpt on Noel:
The No. 1-ranked prospect in the Class of 2012, Noel certainly hasn’t been bad for the 8-4 Wildcats, whose only decent win is against Maryland. But he hasn’t exactly been dominant, either. Just as his scouting report reads, Noel is not a prolific scorer (his 10.5 points come mostly on putbacks and dunks) and his free throw shooting (52.2 percent) leaves a lot to be desired. But that’s the thing about Noel — his upside is huge. It’s obvious he’s going to get a lot better. Heck, he already has, and so have the youthful Wildcats.
  • Answering questions on his weekly live chat on, NBA Draft expert Chad Ford is still under the impression that UK freshmen Noel, Alex Poythress and Archie Goodwin are locks for the upcoming NBA lottery.
Noel, Poythress & Goodwin are locks for the lottery. Cauley-Stein could sneak in there too. Given the stellar incoming class for Kentucky — not sure any of them stay though I could make the argument that all of them REALLY need another year under Calipari to max out their potential.
  • Despite an 8-4 nonconference record, many believe Kentucky still has a very good shot at winning its third regular-season Southeastern Conference crown in the last four seasons. Using his offensive and defensive rankings, Ken Pomeroy used a formula that gives the Cats a 19.55 percent chance of winning the league. The results are based off 10,000 simulations. Florida has the best chance at 72.23 percent.