Kouat Noi’s professional basketball career where his love of the game started, as it was announced Wednesday that he had signed with the Cairns Taipans of the NBL.
WELCOME - KOUAT NOI— Cairns Taipans (@CairnsTaipans) July 3, 2019
The projected 21-year old NBA draft pick has finished up at Texas Christian University to begin his professional playing career with the Taipans! More: https://t.co/srKQOL0Ulr pic.twitter.com/QS40mtsXnC
Noi, who is originally from Sudan but was raised primarily in Newcastle, Australia, left TCU after three years and two active seasons. As a redshirt freshman, he was a key contributor off of the bench for a Horned Frogs’ team that made their first NCAA Tournament in 20 years, averaging 10.2 points and 3.9 rebounds a game. 2018-2019 was a breakout year for him, as he upped those numbers to 13.9 and 4.9 respectively in 31 contests, primarily as a starter. He had several big games, but after injuring an ankle, struggled with his consistency down the stretch. That was why it was somewhat surprising to see him not only enter his name in the NBA Draft, but made it clear he had no plans to return to TCU regardless of what happened during the process.
Though he tested well and had several pre-draft workouts with NBA teams, he withdrew his name prior to the deadline to keep his eligibility for 2020. That also freed him up to return to Australia and begin his professional career closer to home.
Noi joins a Taipans team that was been playing professional basketball for 20 years in Queensland. A not-for-profit club, the Taipans have twice competed for NBL titles, but have not qualified for the post season the past two years, finishing with a sub-.500 record in both. The addition of Noi should help rectify that, though, as the talented scorer and rebounder can bring an instant impact by way of his high-level experience, according to coach Mike Kelly. “Kouat is so young, but he has played at a high level for a long time and I’m excited to see what he will do in his first professional season. He’s going to get tested every day which will be great for him, and his ability to get out in transition and stretch the defence with his shot will be great for us.”
Kelly further remarked that Noi has been on the club’s radar for quite some time, and they were hopeful to have the opportunity to sign the young star in the making. “Patience has certainly paid off for us with Kouat. He had a fantastic season at TCU last year and then tested the NBA Draft process. We watched him with interest while he was at school and have kept in touch when his decision to go pro was made. It’s been a long time in the making, but he’s going to be worth the wait.”
With just six players currently on their roster (Majok Deng, Mirko Djeric, Fabijan Krslovic, Tom Jervis and Jarrod Kenny), Noi has a chance to earn big minutes early as he looks to do enough to get another NBA shot. He certainly has the size and skillset to make it at the professional level stateside, but will need to show more of a motor on the defensive end as well as work on his shot mechanics. That being said, 6’7” guys that can shoot the three can always find a way on a team.
Let’s hope he gets the chance to do enough in his first professional season to get a shot.