TILTON, N.H. --- While on our tour of New England prep schools and Open Gyms, Tar Heel Illustrated had a chance to spend some time evaluating and speaking with 2013 standout Nerlens Noel at the Tilton School.
Below is the full transcript of our extensive Q and A with the 6-11 Noel, the nation's No. 1 center in the Rivals.com center rankings for 2013, and a guy who is already coveted by some of the nation's top college hoops programs.
What's it like having so many elite college coaches on hand for your Open Gym?
It's real good. It's a humbling experience seeing all these head coaches and assistant coaches coming out to watching me play. I'm just working hard and I'm going to keep working hard, but I'm thankful for these coaches showing up today.
What are the factors for you in your decision? Where are you in the process?
I'm not too far in the process right now. I'm in the beginning of trimming the list. I've already got some schools down, but I just have to get on the phone first-hand with some of these these coaches and build the relationship. That's when I'll be confident to put out a list of 10 strong schools that I feel comfortable with.
So do you know how many schools are going to make your list, whether it's seven or eight or 10?
I'm not going to give it out yet, but when I do put it out, it's going to be a pretty good list of good schools.
If you were a Duke or Carolina, should they be optimistic to think they're going to make your list?
Yeah, they should be optimistic.
Syracuse, Connecticut, Big East schools? Schools in the Pac-12 or Big 12?
Schools all over---schools all over, schools in the Pac-12 and Big 12.
Have you had your wing span measured before?
Yeah, 7 (feet) 4 (inches).
And what's your current weight?
What do you have to get better at for the next level?
Definitely just polishing my skill set, being able to hit the 12 and 15-footer consistently, and staying in the weight room, getting stronger and putting on good weight.
Where do you want to be weight-wise your freshman year of college?
My freshman year of college I want to be at least 225, 230 (pounds), but maintain my versatility and being able to improve.
You're known as the best shot blocker in high school basketball, and maybe one of the best since Alonzo Mourning or Dwight Howard. What do you attribute to it? There's a lot of guys as tall as you or leap as well. What makes you such a great shot blocker?
I think it's all mental. You have to have great instincts. You have to be good at anticipating offensive players, knowing what he's going to do, what he can do, if he's a big, strong guy or just a lean, skinny leaper like myself.
Just knowing their type of game, that's what I study a lot. Before I step on the court, I check out what kind of player they are so if I've got to back up or stay up on them, or if they're stronger than me.
Was there anybody this summer that you had trouble with, maybe because of their physicality?
I had a little trouble with Tony Parker a couple of times, because he's a big kid. He's very skilled on the (low) block. He's just got good size. So it was a great matchup, me and him. He's one of my buddies on the (AAU) circuit.
Yeah, Mitch (McGary) too. He's a big kid. He's 6-11. He's skilled. He's thick. He's harder than (Andre) Drummond I think.
What did you gain this summer? Where were some of the things you improved most on?
What did I gain? Just a whole lot of experiences, going to L.A., the West Coast, Florida, all over the country. I experienced a lot of things, playing with pros, seeing what it's like to play with some lottery picks. It just gave me real insight spending time with people at the events. It was just an overall great experience the whole summer.
UNC's coaches Roy Williams and Steve Robinson at your Open Gym. How have they been recruiting you and showing interest in you?
They've been recruiting me pretty hard, but not as much me. They respect my coach's wishes and let him take calls. But all my coaches have been reporting back that they're really interested in me. And North Carolina is a great school and I'm looking forward to taking a visit down there soon.
You're known as a shot blocker, but what are some of the things that people who haven't seen you play as much may not know about your game?
Definitely passing. I get my teammates involved, get them better. You've just always got to have good chemistry. You're not going to be a good team if you don't have good chemistry, if you're not passing the ball.
Do you know of any schools you're planning to visit in the coming months?
Visiting, I don't have anything finalized, but for Midnight Madness I think I'll be going to Syracuse right now. That's one of my options. I'm not too sure.
I know it's really early in your recruitment, but do you have any idea when you're looking to commit and get recruiting out of the way?
Not anytime soon, because I haven't really gotten too far in the recruiting process, checking out the schools and getting good relationships with the coaches.
And what are the areas of growth for you, the things you're trying to really improve the most over the next year in basketball?
In my game, definitely putting on good weight, staying in the weight room, and just keep working hard in there, (and) working on my 12 and 15-foot jumper and my low post skills.