UMass Lowell’s Noel went from one college offer to NBA radar
Four years ago, Obadiah Noel had just finished a high school basketball career in Maryland that saw him get overlooked to the point that he only received one Division 1 college offer.
That lone offer came from UMass Lowell, and Noel gladly accepted it.
A couple of weeks ago, Noel participated in an NBA pre-draft workout for the Golden State Warriors. While there, he glanced around and saw Warriors’ all-star guard Klay Thompson going through his own workout on the next court over.
Clearly, Noel isn’t being overlooked anymore, and he’s enjoying every minute of an incredible summer experience that he earned through talent, hard work and big-time production.
“I’m literally working out and Klay Thompson is on the next court just shooting. I’m like ‘bro, that’s just unreal,’” said Noel. “It’s honestly a blessing, I can’t even describe the feeling. It’s like I’m dreaming.
“It’s been a grind, but at the same time it’s been wonderful. A lot of people thought I wouldn’t get as many workouts as I’m getting now. Just going through the process and being able to travel from city to city and see different facilities, and bumping into NBA players has been crazy.”
Aside from the Warriors, the 6-foot-4, 190-pound guard has worked out for the Washington Wizards, Sacramento Kings, Minnesota Timberwolves, Atlanta Hawks, and a couple other undisclosed teams that Noel was asked to keep private. The NBA Draft will be held on Thursday, July 29.
Noel finished off an outstanding four-year career at UMass Lowell last season as a senior by averaging 21.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists, while shooting 48.6% from the floor. He finished 11th in the nation in scoring and led the River Hawks to their first-ever appearance in the America East Conference championship game. He was a two-time America East All-Conference First Team selection.
Noel’s scoring average increased each season at UML. A quick and super athletic guard who made a living by getting to the free throw line, he also developed into a solid outside shooter, making 120 career 3-pointers at a 35.8% clip.
“That’s my story, just finding a way,” said Noel. “I only had one offer and I just took it and ran with it. Kept working, kept grinding, and now trying out for different teams is crazy. All I needed was one opportunity.”
Back in early-June, Noel impressed at the Tampa Bay Pro Combine. There were 41 draft prospects in attendance and Noel was named to the All-Combine Team after averaging 14 points per game on 48% shooting.
ESPN college basketball analyst and former college coach Fran Fraschilla took notice.
“One guy that really impressed me at (Tampa Bay Pro Combine) was (UMass Lowell’s) Obadiah Noel,” Fraschilla tweeted.
To that point, Noel said, “it was a combine and everybody was trying to get theirs. I think what sticks out for me is how efficient I am. I don’t have to do a lot to score. But I can do more than score; I can play big, I can defend. I think (Fraschilla) just really liked my versatility. He had never watched me before, so he’s seeing me for the first time and I just caught his eye.”
Noel also knows there are areas that he’ll need to improve in for him to earn a sustainable professional job, particularly at the highest level.
“I need to be an elite defender. I need to be able to guard multiple positions at my size, being a combo guard,” he said. “Right now, I’m just keying in on defense and making the right plays.”
Noel says his agent, Austin Walton, has received lots of positive feedback after NBA workouts.
Of course, there are only two rounds in the NBA Draft, so getting selected is very difficult, especially for a player from a program like UMass Lowell. But Noel knows that even if he doesn’t hear his name called that night, the professional basketball dream is still alive.
“I’m just taking it day by day, to be honest. I’m just focusing on these workouts,” said Noel. “Draft parties and stuff like that, I’ll talk to my family, based on the feedback I get from these teams. Obviously, the dream is to get drafted, but I know I can get a contract after the draft. That’s the goal — get a contract, get in one these systems and play for an organization.”