Nerlens Noel kept waiting and waiting.

After five picks in Thursday nights' NBA draft, the 6-11 big man from Kentucky finally heard his name when the New Orleans Pelicans selected him with the sixth pick.

Then Noel realized he'd be teaming up with last year's No. 1 pick, Anthony Davis. "I'm just happy to be with the Pelicans," said Noel, a favorite to be the top overall draft pick.

That lasted barely 30 minutes.

The Pelicans dealt Noel and a 2014 first-round draft pick to the Philadelphia 76ers for Jrue Holiday and this year's 42nd pick.

With a perplexed look on his face, Noel tried to force out a smile. When asked about the five teams who passed him, Noel tried to stay positive, but admitted he felt overlooked.

"Oh yeah, I'm going to make them pay," Noel confided to USA TODAY Sports.

Noel never thought about quitting after a season-ending ACL tear in his first and only season at Kentucky. The Wildcats' performance declined following Noel's injury Feb. 12, and they became a rare defending national champion not to return to the NCAA tournament the next season.

He said his mother was his inspiration when it came to rehabilitating his knee to show NBA teams he was worthy as a top pick in the NBA draft.

"Coming to America from Haiti, working two jobs, she never quit so I could be where I'm at today," said Noel. "I wasn't about to give up."

"This has been his dream since he was a little boy. I just told him to keep working and good things would come," Dorcina Noel said.