Kentucky high school basketball star backs out of SEC commitment. Will he play for Mark Pope?

One of the best Kentucky high school boys’ basketball players in modern history has backed out of his commitment to an SEC school.

Could he soon join head coach Mark Pope’s first team at Kentucky?

On Tuesday afternoon, Trent Noah —a 6-foot-6 guard from Harlan County — decommitted from South Carolina.

Noah posted a message on social media that said, in part “After much thought, prayer and extensive conversation with my family, I requested and was granted a release from my National Letter of Intent with the University of South Carolina. I will be reopening my recruitment with hopes of pursuing basketball opportunities closer to home.”

Noah originally committed to the Gamecocks in early October and signed with South Carolina during the fall signing period.

The star player for a Harlan County team that won the 13th Region and advanced to the Sweet 16 championship game in March at Rupp Arena, Noah ended his high school career as an accomplished scorer.

Noah had a scoring week for the ages during this year’s Sweet 16 tournament: Noah had 35 points in an opening-round win over defending state champion Warren Central, 48 points in an overtime quarterfinal win over Campbell County, 29 points in a semifinal win over Evangel Christian and 17 more points in the state championship loss to Lyon County.

Noah is one of eastern Kentucky’s best-ever high school basketball players: The 48 points Noah scored against Campbell County were the fourth-most points ever scored in a Boys’ Sweet 16 game.

Noah also set a new Boys’ Sweet 16 record by making 19 3-pointers at the state tournament.

Noah scored 3,707 career points during his time as a high school player in Kentucky, which is unofficially the fifth-most all-time.

Prior to this state tournament scoring explosion, Noah was already averaging 29.7 points and 10.5 rebounds per game for Harlan County, as the Black Bears won only their second ever region championship.

When Noah committed to South Carolina last October, he did so from a final group of schools that also included Butler, Dayton, Saint Louis, Seton Hall, Stanford, Richmond and Western Kentucky.

Noah made his original college choice in a live streamed announcement on YouTube.

“Trent is a ferocious competitor that has a passion and commitment to the game that is hard to find,” South Carolina head coach Lamont Paris said in a news release when the Gamecocks announced the addition of Noah in November. “On the court, he is a supremely confident and a skilled shooter that has a great feel for the game.”

At the time of his commitment, Noah (who is listed as a small forward by 247Sports) was ranked by the 247Sports Composite as a three-star recruit and as the No. 145 player nationally in the 2024 recruiting class.

Currently, Noah is ranked as a four-star recruit by the 247Sports Composite and as the No. 105 player in the 2024 recruiting class.

Could Trent Noah join Kentucky men’s basketball?

What comes next for Noah as he looks for a new school to play college basketball at next season? Well, there will be plenty of buzz about Noah potentially staying in state and playing for the Kentucky Wildcats.

Pope, Kentucky’s new head coach, has a blank slate to work with as he constructs his first UK basketball roster.

Aaron Bradshaw (Ohio State), Joey Hart (Ball State), Zvonimir Ivisic (Arkansas) and Adou Thiero (Arkansas) are players from the 2023-24 Kentucky squad that will transfer to new schools. Additionally, Jordan Burks, Ugonna Onyenso and D.J. Wagner are still in the NCAA transfer portal.

Also from last season’s team, Rob Dillingham, Justin Edwards and Reed Sheppard have declared for the 2024 NBA draft. Tre Mitchell and Antonio Reeves have exhausted their college eligibility.

Pope’s first Kentucky team already has nine players confirmed to be a part of it.

Those players are first-year guards Collin Chandler (a former BYU signee) and Travis Perry (a former Lyon County High School star), third-year guard Otega Oweh (who previously played two seasons at Oklahoma), fifth-year guards Koby Brea (who previously played four seasons at Dayton), Lamont Butler (who previously played four seasons at San Diego State) and Kerr Kriisa (who previously played at Arizona and West Virginia), fifth-year forward Amari Williams (who previously played four seasons at Drexel), fifth-year forward Andrew Carr (who previously played two seasons each at Delaware and Wake Forest) and second-year center Brandon Garrison (who played last season at Oklahoma State).

College basketball players had until May 1 to enter the transfer portal. The early-entry deadline for the 2024 NBA draft was April 27, and players who entered the draft with remaining NCAA eligibility have until May 29 to remove their names from consideration and return to school.

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