Tonight, at around 8:45 PM, Nerlens Noel is going to let the world know where he plans to attend college. This is a very similar decision to one that I’ve made before, and similar to one that most other people reading this blog have made, with one decidedly major difference – we picked a school based on factors such as education, campus life, extracurricular activities and how comfortable we felt. Nerlens Noel is going to pick a school primarily, I imagine, because of basketball. And there will be much rejoicing at one school and plenty of crying and sadness at multiple other schools. And people will yell and scream and post angry Twitter messages with their Caps Lock key pushed all the way down and vow to hate him forever. This will inevitably happen, and it’s a sad comment upon our society, but it’s no use denying that this WILL happen tonight.
And because that will happen, maybe we should take a step back and think about what’s happening here for a second. The basketball part of the equation, to be sure, is a major difference between Nerlens Noel’s selection of a college and my selection of a college. (With less varsity experience of high school basketball than Skip Bayless, I decided to go down the academic route. Shocking, I know.) But all three of Noel’s finalists are fine basketball schools – Georgetown, Kentucky and Syracuse. Anyone who is recruited and earns a basketball scholarship to one of these schools is an extraordinary talent and can singlehandedly affect the national picture in a given season. So whatever Nerlens Noel chooses, he has already chosen wisely. There is no insane wild card selection here – no Louisana-Lafayette or Portland or Evansville in the mix. So why – whenever Nerlens Noel’s decision comes down – will we yell and scream about it?
I have heard Syracuse fans make arguments that heavily slant the pros of SU while glossing over the other two schools. At Syracuse, they say, he’ll be a hero if he wins a national championship, while at Kentucky, he’ll be just another guy. Georgetown isn’t good enough to win a national championship and doesn’t have the same level of players as Syracuse currently does. These, of course, are all silly arguments to make. If Noel wins a national championship everywhere, he’ll be regarded as a local hero. And wherever he plays, he’ll do so with a boatload of talented teammates and a coach who’s helped cultivate some of the best NBA talents in the game.
None of us know what Nerlens Noel’s family situation is like. None of us know what his parents and relative have suggested. None of us know what sort of advice he has received from friends. None of us know exactly how his official visits went. None of us know the details of the conversations between Noel and the coaches he has spoken to. None of us know how Noel enjoyed the campus environments of the places he went to. And none of us know how comfortable he felt with each place.
And isn’t the most important thing? Noel, I imagine, is going to pick the school he feels most comfortable with. He’s going to want a comfortable coaching staff, a comfortable support system and a comfortable campus environment. He’s not going to want to regret choosing one place over the other. Wherever he chooses – contrary to what the Twitter and Facebook backlash will be – will be his best choice. There’d be no sense in him making a choice to go anywhere else. Have some trust that this young man and his family know what will be best for him. And don’t take shots at someone you don’t know, for a decision made for reasons that you don’t know, because of conversations and thoughts of which you don’t know.
(And yes, I’m aware that is less of a review and more of a collection of thoughts.)
(Of course, if he chooses my alma mater…there’s an A grade waiting. And what better reward is there than that?)