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Nerlens Noel injury: High school ailment linked to ACL tear

Noel broke the growth plate in his left knee back in high school. It might've contributed to tearing his ACL last week.

USA TODAY Sports

The Kentucky Wildcats' hopes of returning to the NCAA Tournament in 2013 took a serious hit last week when they lost freshman Nerlens Noel to a torn ACL. With Noel still looking like an elite prospect for the NBA Draft, there's a good chance the freshman big man has played his final game in Lexington.

Read More: For continued updates on UK hoops, check out A Sea of Blue.

Noel's torn ACL might have been linked to an injury he suffered during his sophomore year in high school. According to this report from The Courier-Journal, Noel fractured the growth plate in his left knee and was forced to sit out the entire season.

Instead of waiting for the knee to fully recover, the lanky forward rushed back to the court to play AAU ball during the summer. It's not a sure thing that the high school injury is the reason for the torn ACL, but complications can arise if the knee does not fully heal.

"If the leg healed awkwardly and (Noel) had a malalignment in that knee, that could predispose him to future injuries in that leg," Dr. Robin West told the Courier-Journal.

Noel was averaging 10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.4 blocks with the Wildcats this season.