Big Board: Noel reclaims No. 1 spot

Nerlens Noel, despite suffering a torn ACL on Feb. 12, remains a top option for NBA teams. Spruce Derden/USA TODAY Sports

March Madness is here again, and the most exciting event in sports is delivering.

NBA scouts and GMs tend to minimize the influence a great tournament can have on a player's stock. Yes, NBA talent evaluators never judge a player based off one or two games. But the tournament is some players' last chance to show off, and last impressions can be, well, lasting.

NBA scouts and GMs were all over the country last week watching the NCAA tournament. Twenty of the players on our Big Board played at least in one game. Some shined. Others struggled mightily.

Here's our take on where every player is going into the Sweet 16.

Also, be sure to check out our updated Top 100 and our updated Lottery Mock Draft.


Nerlens Noel

SCHOOL: Kentucky
HT/WT: 6-11, 215

10.5 PPG
9.5 RPG
4.4 BPG

Noel was atop our Top 100 rankings from our first one on June 29 until he went down with a torn ACL in February. Since that time we've been reluctant to keep him at No. 1 until NBA doctors have a chance to look at his MRIs. But the truth is that Noel might be the big draft winner of NCAA tournament so far. While most of the other top prospects have stumbled -- some mightily -- multiple NBA scouts and GMs remember Noel's increasing productivity at Kentucky and say, essentially, if every player in the draft this year is going to be a major risk, why not gamble with the ultra-athletic big man and hope his knee and his offensive game both get better?

While it's hard to describe Noel as a consensus No. 1, after a weekend of talking to NBA decision-makers, it sounds like most of them are now leaning that direction. Of course their doctors could talk them out of it, but assuming the surgery went well and the knee is rehabbing properly, Noel's chances of going No. 1 have gone up considerably the past few weeks.