The Cairns Taipans have announced 6’7 forward Kouat Noi (koo-watt noy) is coming back to Australia and has committed to Far North Queensland for the upcoming season, with the projected NBA draft pick finishing up at Texas Christian University (TCU) to begin his professional playing career with the Taipans.
The 21-year old was an early entry candidate for this year’s draft but decided to withdraw, maintaining his eligibility for the 2020 NBA Draft. His decision to go pro earned him pre-draft workouts with various NBA teams, including the Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks over the last two months.
After acquiring Oklahoma City’s Draft Pick Devon Hall last year, Noi’s signing is another NBA-calibre talent signing up to play for Taipans Head Coach Mike Kelly, who has been diligently working on Noi’s recruitment throughout the off-season.
“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,” said Coach Kelly.
“Kouat has the ability to score inside and out – he’s a very good shooter that can also finish at the rim. He’s got the agility and length to defend perimeter players but is also big and strong enough to guard bigger players and be a force on the boards.”
Noi did not play for the first year at TCU but as a redshirt freshman he helped the Horned Frogs make the 2018 NCAA Tournament for the first time in 20 years; playing in all 33 games with an average of 10.2 points and 3.9 rebounds.
Noi continued to improve in his sophomore year, with an average of 13.9 points and 4.9 rebounds in 31 contests, featuring 19 starts. His impressive college stint came after earning a two-year scholarship to Montverde Academy in Florida, where he briefly played alongside friend and fellow Newcastle Hunters junior Ben Simmons.
“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,” continued Coach Kelly.
“We’re going to have a great group this season that will grow and develop together. And, it’s no secret that Kouat has got an extremely good chance to play in the NBA and we’re all on board to help him get there.”
Originally from Khartoum, Sudan, Noi moved to Newcastle in 2002. He led New South Wales Country to a silver medal at the 2014 U18 Australian Junior Championship, and also helped Australia to a silver medal at the FIBA U17 World Cup the same year alongside Jack White, Isaac Humphries and Harry Froling.
Noi joins Majok Deng, Mirko Djeric, Fabijan Krslovic, Tom Jervis and Jarrod Kenny on the Taipans 2019/20 roster, with Taipans representatives heading to NBA Summer League to scout potential imports.