Georgetown, Syracuse, Kentucky.
Kentucky, Georgetown, Syracuse.
Nerlens Noel has been down to those three schools - in what seems to be a fluctuating order - since March 18. Then each school had in-home visits with either he and his mother, or in Kentucky's case - just his mother.
Once that wrapped-up on the night of March 21 - when both Georgetown and Syracuse sent three coaches to his New England house - Noel decided that he'd seen enough from each school.
Since then, report after report has surfaced about Noel making a decision - all which he refuted in a blog he wrote on Tuesday. Instead, he said he is still working things out and a decision had not yet been made.
With the media-savvy Noel making experts guess just as good as any fan's, it won't matter after tonight. Sometime between 7:30 p.m. EST and 9:00, likely closer to 9:00, we will all know where he is headed and take a collective sigh of relief no matter which school the No. 1 player in the country selects.
If Noel selects Kentucky, the reasons would be self-explanatory. Coach Calipari is known for his immediate turn-around with elite prospects as they pursue the NBA and he is coming off of a National Championship with a player similar to Noel in Anthony Davis.
Downside: Pressure. That's it. Noel would be looked at as a replacement for Davis with the expectations to take the Wildcats right back to the National Title game despite what is almost certain to be a completely new roster.
Should the top player in America choose the Hoyas, we would know that he wants to prove his offensive game while in college. With his defensive presence, no matter where he goes, he can be dominant. But offensively, Georgetown utilizes the big man to facilitate as well as score from the high post. Noel is also very fond of the way the school has produced centers at the next level...you know the names.
Downside: Winning. The Hoyas will likely be ranked closer to 25 than 1 once the pre-season polls come out in the fall, when UK and SU - even without Noel - are likely slotted for spots among the first 10 schools in America. The prized recruit has stressed that he wants to compete for a title.
If the Orange was the lucky team to get Noel, it would be the furthest away from the other two schools in terms of expectation and necessity. He would be asked to anchor the defense and simply contribute when needed offensively. His game would be on a national stage - as it would at UK - while playing in front of more fans and alongside good friend and all-but guaranteed starting point guard Michael-Carter Williams. Noel also admitted that he has the best relationship, among all the coaches he is in contact with, with Orange assistant Mike Hopkins.
Downside: Minutes. While Noel would have all the opportunity in the world to thrive in the middle of the 2-3 zone, which he is familiar with already, he would probably be playing the least amount of minutes game-in, game-out compared to the other two schools. Rakeem Christmas, DaJuan Coleman and Baye Keita are all expected to contribute in the front court.
No matter where he goes, Syracuse and Kentucky will be fine. Georgetown is dependent on his decision, but we'll all just have to wait and see what happens tonight. The experts are leaning Kentucky over Georgetown, Noel has me thinking SU is right at the top, so it shouldn't shock anyone no matter where he ends up.
Kudos to Noel for playing the game this well, every time he is in front of a camera or on the telephone. But tonight's call is the one that seals the deal.