Injured UK center Noel's recovery ahead of schedule

CBSSports.com wire reports
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LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Nerlens Noel continues to take small steps toward returning to the court following surgery on his left knee.

He's shed his crutches and exercising without a knee brace. Though he wouldn't specify want types of exercises, it's all signs his recovery is ahead of schedule -- and each stride is important with the NBA Draft looming.

Noel said Tuesday he's "doing good" after the March 12 operation to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament. The 6-foot-10 center expects to return to the court by Christmas, a long road back likely to involve countless hours rehabbing in an NBA facility.

Noel likely won't stay long on teams' draft boards and could become Kentucky's third No. 1 overall pick in four years at the June 27 event in New York.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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