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Davis not shy in praise of heir apparent Noel

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Anthony Davis became the fifth-leading shot blocker in school history in just one season at Kentucky. (Chet White, UK Athletics) Anthony Davis became the fifth-leading shot blocker in school history in just one season at Kentucky. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
Anthony Davis hasn't missed out on the talk. He's heard the pronouncements by recruiting analysts that Nerlens Noel, the incoming freshman projected to step into his role at Kentucky, is a better shot blocker than he is.

On its face, the notion seems ridiculous. En route to being named the consensus national player of the year in his lone season as a Wildcat, Davis swatted his way into the record books with 186 blocks. Is it really possible that Noel is better?

It's hard to come up with a better person to ask than the man himself.

"I think he is," Davis said. "I can't block the ball like he blocks. He can block with either hand. I kind of tip it with my left."

Characteristically humble in his responses, the star does see one facet of shot-blocking where he might have an edge though. Davis drew comparisons to Bill Russell, one of basketball's all-time greats, for his ability to keep his deflections in play and direct them toward himself or a teammate. Based on what he's seen from his successor, it seems to Davis that Noel prefers the Dwight Howard-style, five-rows-into-the-stands block.

"(The) only difference is he likes to throw it into the crowd," Davis said. "I like to keep it in play. I'm pretty sure they'll change that here though."

Nonetheless, Davis thinks Noel has a chance at threatening his NCAA freshman and UK block record, though he would rather hold onto it himself.

"I think he does," Davis said. "Great shot blocker, I think he's better than me so he's just got to wait and see. I hope he don't though."

A couple weeks ago, Davis got to watch Noel in person at the Jordan Brand Classic, where the Everett, Mass., native battled foul trouble but still managed three blocked shots.

"I've seen him play," Davis said. "He's an outstanding player. He plays offense as well as defense, so he's going to be a great player."

It wasn't the first time the two had met either. Earlier in the season, when Noel opted to reclassify back into the class of 2012, he came on an unofficial visit to Lexington. The two got a chance to know each other a bit, and based on Davis' reaction, it seems Noel has more in common with him than a scouting report.

"He's a great shot blocker, great kid, humble and down-to-earth and just loves the game," Davis said.

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