Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel will give up his sophomore season and enter his name in this year's NBA draft.

"I have loved my time at Kentucky, but I feel that I'm ready to take the next step to the NBA," Noel said in a release "I've learned so much here at UK and am thankful for Coach (John) Calipari, the staff and my teammates for all of their support. I especially appreciate the Big Blue Nation and all of the support, prayers and well-wishes I've received from them during my rehab and decision-making process. I'll always be a Wildcat!"

Noel, of Everett, Mass., led the nation in blocks as he averaged 4.4 per game and had 106 in 24 games played before his season-ending knee injury.

Despite the injury, Noel is projected to be one of the first players taken and maybe the first overall.