Obadiah Noel sets a gold standard for open beta players

Last season, Obadiah Noel spotted a third corner kick and waited for teammate Brian Tyree to pass the ball to him. When Tyree flipped it, three players were ahead of Noel, but he sped off the entire length of the court to try and chase. 905 was up 13 points in the middle of the fourth quarter. Although Fort Wayne got the bucket, it’s a little effort here that counts.

Newly appointed Phoenix Suns assistant coach Patrick Mutombo, a bastion of toughness, raves about Noel’s defense at the start of the 2021-22 season. “I’m going out here on a limb,” he paused. “[Obadiah] He could be a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year.”

That came from someone who coached Gary Payton II, DPOY the previous season. Mutombo continued, “He wants to defend, he has the heart to defend, and we just have to teach him the little nuances that will help him do it at the highest level, where it doesn’t pollute but makes people very uncomfortable.”

Noel’s court time flew by as the 2021-22 season progressed, but he fought constantly, played on screens, and guarded the mismatch. When taller and bigger players try to bully him low, his powerful core and strong base keep them out.

Buzzwords like “mental toughness” are often thrown around without properly defining it, so let me explain how Noel has refined his key personality traits over time. His mental strength began when he honestly looked at himself in the mirror – he had the self-awareness and humility to identify and accept his own weaknesses. After that, he had the audacity to constantly go to work to improve it.

In an interview with jersey talkNoel thought about his freshman shyness and how he needed to put some muscle on his arms at the time. “Just enter [my freshman season]“I was really skinny and weak, so it was tough,” he said, “and the most important thing for me was my weight. I was crazy skinny, I was young, so after my first freshman season, I just stayed in Massachusetts.” He continued, “I wouldn’t even go home, so I was going up there.”

“I was just playing to my athletic strength,” Noel said of his sophomore season. But this did not give him any awards at all conferences. So he developed a jump shot before his junior season and then added a post-game catch in his first season. He made partial improvements to his school that were overlooked at the American East Conference. And when he could jump off the ship, he decided to lock it up.

“I am a mentally strong person. Most people move… from [American East] “To California, Georgia and Miami,” Noel said, but stuck to the only school that offered him a scholarship.

Noel’s 6’4″ frame took time and commitment to fill. Kristen Mitchell, assistant athletic trainer from UMass Lowell, referred to his progress as “an absolutely amazing transformation.” I watched the work Noel put in behind the scenes – the two worked on his thigh mobility, ensuring he could drop into a defensive position and stay mobile.

“If you’re going down on the defensive, you’ll either stand on your hips and knees or bend forward at your torso — and that puts undue stress on your lumbar spine,” Mitchell said. UMass Lowell played centerless basketball, so Noel had to learn how to compete against bigger and stronger players.

As a first-year pro, he was able to keep G Leaguers off the plate due to the hip mobility and core strength he developed at UMass Lowell. Mitchell testifies to the dedication Noel put into counter-rotation exercises like planks and landmine presses.

Sundays were supposed to be a holiday. “Those were the days I came and got treated,” Mitchell said. “And I’m not kidding, he’s always been there,” Mitchell said with a laugh. “I can always count on him to be there. A lot of times he was only there for treatment on Sundays, so he definitely took care of his body.”

The success of the 905 development system need not be repeated here. However, Noel is a case study of how the 905 also discover marginal G League players and develop them into high-level professionals. Noel made the roster as an open test player – places are often reserved for players at the end of the bench – and took the opportunity to thrive under the Mutombo wing.

Noel not only established himself on the defensive end of the ground, but lost 19 points to the eventual 2021 Show Cup champions, the Delaware Blue Coates and 28 against Fort Wayne in the regular season. For comparison, 28 points isn’t an achievement by previous Open Tryout players like Myck Kabongo, Duane Notice (career high: 25), Nicholas Baer or Richard Amardi.

Noel has kept a low profile this season – he didn’t play in the Summer Basketball League or the NBA – but he’s definitely on the cusp of signing somewhere soon. Whether he returns in the 2022-23 season To join Jalen Lecque It’s still a mystery, but even if he doesn’t, he’s discovered another 905 underdog from a small school and turned him into a winner.