Noel says knee ahead of schedule, loved time at UK

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) – Since his Kentucky career ended with a torn ACL at Florida, it’s been a difficult road for Nerlens Noel. But thanks to an intense rehabilitation, Noel’s recovery is ahead of schedule.

“I’ve been working hard in rehab and I’m well ahead of schedule. My physical therapist is really pushing me and doing everything he can for me,” Noel said. “I’ve just been working hard and trying to bounce back as soon as possible.

Noel talked about his knee during a visit to a local sports card shop. As hundreds of fans waited outside to get his signature, Noel said he’s at peace with the injury.

“It’s been tough,” he said. “It’s about mental aspect. I stay strong. I’ve prepared myself for this. Physically, I’m coming along.”

Despite not being able to work out for teams prior to the June 27 draft, Noel is still projected by some to be a top-5 pick. Noel said he’s not worried about where he’ll get drafted – he just wants to play.

“I’d rather be out there playing, showing them what I can do. I’ll keep doing everything I have to do to rehab,” he said.

Noel grew up in Everette, Mass., near Boston, and has been keeping an eye on the tragedy surrounding the marathon.

“It was definitely tragic,” Noel said. “Growing up in a city like Boston, it just gave me a different feeling. I was really saddened about it.”

While his one season with the Cats ended after just 24 games, Noel said he’d do it all over again if he had to.

“It was a great experience. I love it,” he said of playing at UK. “Every time I stepped on that court, I loved it.”

“I gave it my all,” Noel continued. “I wouldn’t take anything back. I wouldn’t do it any other way.”

But what about playing with a group of players like the one John Calipari is bringing in next year?

“There’s a little temptation,” he said. “I was actually in that class. I played with all those guys. It’s going to be a really good team. I’m expecting a lot from those young kids. They’re going to do well by the Big Blue Nation.”

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