Sixers’ Brown: Rookie center Noel likely to miss season

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Brett Brown cleared up the situation regarding highly touted rookie Nerlens Noel, and fans of the Philadelphia 76ers probably aren’t going to like it.

Brown, in his first season as Sixers coach, said Noel is likely to miss his entire first NBA season as the result of a torn ACL suffered while Noel was a freshman at the University of Kentucky.

Brown dropped the news prior to the Sixers’ preseason game Monday against the Cleveland Cavaliers on the campus of Ohio State University.

“We don’t want to waste this year,” Brown said of the Sixers’ strategy with Noel. “I think, from all perspectives, it’s an opportunity to break down his shot, really work on his free throws, and start a bit from ground zero. He’s bought in and been great.”

Noel was widely considered one of the top two prospects entering the 2013 NBA Draft, even with his knee injury and the surgery that followed. NBA scouts viewed the 6-foot-11 center as a natural and athletic shot blocker with a developing offensive game.

But his stock dropped on draft night, with Noel falling to the No. 6 overall pick. There, he was selected by the New Orleans Pelicans — who immediately traded him to the Sixers for All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday.

Now, Brown said, Noel is likely to be held out for the sake of learning in the film room and from the bench.

“He needs to be nurtured this year.” Brown said. “I think we’ve grabbed the thing and put him on a road map that’s good for him, and good for the program.”

Noel averaged 10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and an astounding 4.4 blocked shots in 24 games last season at Kentucky. He injured his knee in a loss to Florida on Feb. 12 and has not played since.

Twitter: @SamAmicoFSO