By LARRY VAUGHT
Former Kentucky basketball player Nerlens Noel is trying to re-energize his NBA career with the Oklahoma Thunder.
He left for the NBA after one year at UK despite missing the final part of the season with an injury. He was a lottery pick but has struggled to make a big impact so far.
The Thunder signed him as a free agent and he’s excited about what lies ahead.
“I definitely like it’s the cycle of the NBA. Opportunities will be there. You just got to be ready, especially an opportunity like this in Oklahoma with this great organization,” Noel said. “ I think there’s a great position for all of us.
“It’ll probably be my first time in the playoffs — it will be my first time in the playoffs, and that will be a great experience for myself with all I’ve been through with the teams and to be around this really deep locker room filled with veterans, as myself, just continue learning because the learning process never stops. I’m definitely excited for it.”
Oklahoma management did not make him think it would be easy for him to earn a significant role with the team but he liked that challenge.
“Just accepting challenges, and that’s how I’ve been my whole life. Just taking things right on. I knew coming here that there would be some challenges and guys — certain things would be demanded, and I was 110 percent ready for that,” Noel said. “This team is definitely built, I think, the right way with the right pieces of guys that can really complement off each other and just go out there and play their own game just naturally. That’s another reason why I was really so attracted to this situation.”