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By LARRY VAUGHT
It has been two weeks since Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee when he crashed into the basket support at Florida and UK coach John Calipari said Tuesday that his surgery is now scheduled.
“It’ll be done, he’ll have a couple weeks of intensive stuff. (Rajon) Rondo’s going through it. Rondo said it: ‘The toughest and the most painful thing I’ve ever been through in my life.’ You’re tough enough to go through it. Those guys that do end up coming back, in most cases, stronger than they were,” said Calipari. “But there’s no slacking off, there’s no, ‘Well, I’m not going to go hard today.’ No. You got five months of work, and I’ve told him that.
“And I think he’s up for it, but it’s not something … just because a lot of these surgeries happen, the ones that don’t work out are because the guy, the rehab didn’t work. That means the guy didn’t put in the time and the sacrifice and the sweat equity that you got to put in to make that work. I think he will, though.”
Noel was UK’s leading shot blocker and rebounder when he was injured and also was leading the nation in blocked shots. He was projected as a top five NBA draft pick and even a potential No. 1 pick in some mock draft.
Calipari says he has not tried to get Rondo, a former UK point guard now with the Boston Celtics, or Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose, who played for Calipari at Memphis, about their surgeries and recovery process.
“I haven’t at this point. He hadn’t had the surgery, hadn’t started on the rehab yet. But I will at some point,” Calipari said. “But (former UK star) Derek Anderson talked (to him), knows what he went though. But (Noel’s) in a good frame of mind. Mom was here this weekend. She was great. They know we’ve really dotted I’s and crossed T’s and made sure one way or another he was in good shape, and she appreciated it.”