LEXINGTON - University of Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel continues to haul in postseason accolades. He has recently been tabbed a U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) Freshman All-America selection, a first-team All-Southeastern Conference selection by the Associated Press and he was selected to the National Association of Basketball Coaches’ (NABC) All-District team for consideration for All-America honors.
The USBWA selected Noel as one of five freshman players to earn All-America accolades. He joins Anthony Bennett (UNLV), Ben McLemore (Kansas), Shabazz Muhammad (UCLA) and Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State) as other honorees.
Noel is the fifth Wildcat player under the direction of John Calipari to earn All-America accolades from the USBWA, joining DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and John Wall.
In addition to earning All-SEC first team honors by the league’s coaches, Noel earned first-team honors from the Associated Press. The AP has honored at least one UK freshman on the first team in four-consecutive seasons. Cousins and Wall both claimed the honor in 2010. Terrence Jones was a first-team AP selection in 2011, and both Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist were honored a season ago.
Noel’s honor as a first-team selection to both the AP and Coaches’ All-SEC teams marks the 50th time in program history a player has achieved the feat.
Furthermore, Noel captured All-District accolades to the NABC’s 21st district squad. Selected and voted on by member coaches of the NABC, student-athletes chosen to the district teams are now eligible for NABC All-America honors.
The freshman from Everett, Mass., led the nation in blocking as he averaged 4.4 rejections per game and tallied 106 in 24 games played. Prior to his season-ending knee injury he was the only player standing taller than 6-5 to rank in the top 30 for steals per outing as he had accumulated 50 steals on the year.
He averaged 10.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. His rebounds and blocked shots led the Southeastern Conference, while he also ranked among the top-10 players in steals per game, defensive rebounds per game, offensive rebounds per game and minutes played per game.
Noel finished the season ranking second in UK single-season history with 106 blocks. His 50 steals ranked as the fifth most in a single-season by a freshman. His .590 field goal percentage is the ninth best mark in school history, while his steals per game (2.1) is the seventh best mark in school allure.
Minnesota fires Tubby Smith: Former Kentucky coach Tubby Smith has been fired after six seasons as head coach of the Minnesota men’s basketball team.
Smith had a 124-81 overall record at Minnesota. However, Smith-coached teams were only 26-42 in Big Ten play.
Smith guided Minnesota to three NCAA tournaments. He will collect a $2.5 million buyout.