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The Nerlens Noel experience

Back in 2013, I found myself enamored with a certain Kentucky big man...

Marshall v Kentucky Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

On January 13, 2013, I watched on television as my Texas Aggies went into Rupp Arena and gave Kentucky a big what for. Elston Turner went off for 40 points, and A&M pulled off an unbelievable, thrilling 12-point victory on the road against Kentucky. It was only John Calipari’s second ever loss at home with Kentucky. Needless to say, I was bonkers excited and living large.

And yet my biggest takeaway from that game had nothing to do with my Aggies. As hyped as I was for Turner’s huge game and for the win, I spent the game being floored by how amazing one Nerlens Noel was. He was everywhere that game. I mean that. Everywhere.

I have no idea how the rest of Noel’s college career went—obviously good enough to get him drafted 6th overall. But watching him in that game, I knew he was something special. He had 15 points, 11 rebounds, 7 blocks, 6 assists and 4 steals.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Take your time to pick your jaw off the floor, and we’ll reconvene.

As insane as that stat line is, watching it was even more incredible. He was just so springy and athletic and energetic. He was engaged on both ends of the floor, and really carried his team when nothing was going right for them. The blocks were obviously the most eye-catching feat, though he had a couple of dunks that were stunners. However, I was most blown away by his handles for a big guy. He could move with the ball, dribble, and pass. I couldn’t believe it.

Given that the Dallas Mavericks just traded a non-rotation player, an expiring deal, and a highly protected first round pick for Noel, I’m guessing his NBA career to this point has not lived up to the performance I saw back then. I confess that I haven’t really followed Noel much in the NBA, but from what I understand there were injury and fit issues in Philly, right?

Nothing we can do about injuries but hope that he has better luck in Dallas. But in terms of fit, holy crap this couldn’t have worked out better. Nerlens Noel is basically (to steal a term I’ve seen a few people throw around on Twitter) baby Tyson Chandler. He’s 22. The Mavs could keep him around forever under the new CBA because he’s still on his rookie deal.

If he’s healthy, at worst Noel is probably Brandan Wright. And again, at best, he is a younger version of the best center in Dallas history.

Maybe it’s too much to hope he’s competing for the 5x5 club on a nightly basis for Dallas, but I am so pumped to have this kid on the team. I can’t wait to see how he works out for the Mavs.