Kouat Noi is betting on himself with Sydney
By signing with the defending champions and hitting the reset button on his NBL career, can Noi finally get back on track?
Credit: May Bailey Photography
Two years ago, Kouat Noi was one of the hottest prospects in the NBL. His first professional season was a resounding success, as he helped the Cairns Taipans to a surprise finals berth and finished runner-up in the Rookie of the Year race. He was in good company, as the player that claimed the award, LaMelo Ball, would be named the NBA’s top rookie the following year.
Noi’s impressive first season was no real surprise. In fact, it was just the latest leap he had made down the basketball pipeline. After progressing through the Australian junior pathways, and even winning a World Championship silver medal at the under-17 level, he spent a productive two seasons in the NCAA before returning home.
That strong rookie season placed him squarely in the frame to take the next big step too, as he entered the NBA draft and earned a place in predraft discussions. It was reported that he spoke with as many as 11 NBA teams, and while he ultimately wasn’t selected, he was close enough to be able to see his lifelong dream just over the horizon.
“I’ve got so much confidence in myself… I’ll just continue to get better and one day you will see me in the NBA,” Noi said ahead of the 2020-21 NBL season.
Fast forward to today, and Noi’s NBL career has stagnated in a way that very few could have predicted.