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February 13, 2013

Noel out for season with torn ACL in left knee

Kentucky forward Nerlens Noel will miss the remainder of his freshman season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, the school announced Wednesday.

Noel is expected to undergo surgery sometime in the next two to three weeks, according to a UK release. According to that release, the timetable for recovery is six to eight months.

"Minor setback for a MAJOR comeback!" Noel posted on Twitter Wednesday afternoon. "I love you all and can't thank y'all enough for the prayers."

Noel, a 6-foot-10 native of Everett, Mass., is the nation's leading shot blocker with 106. He averages an NCAA-best 4.4 blocked shots per game.

"I've been coaching for 22 years and this is the first injury we've had of this kind during the season, which makes it even more devastating," coach John Calipari said in a release Wednesday afternoon. "I met with Nerlens earlier today. The meeting was really positive, and I loved his attitude. The way he is already dealing with this injury lets me know that he is going to come back stronger than ever. The good news is he is insured, so he would have been fine even if the injury would have been worse. Obviously this is not a career-ending injury and it's one that athletes bounce back from all the time."

Noel also was averaging 10.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game for the Wildcats.

He injured the knee in Kentucky's 69-52 loss Tuesday night at Florida, chasing down Gators guard Mike Rosario to block a shot.

Noel is a projected top-five pick in June's NBA Draft should he opt to enter.

Kentucky coach John Calipari was not available for immediate comment. After Tuesday's game, he said that he was hoping for the best for Noel.

Calipari said he was "physically sick" for Noel on Tuesday.


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