Nickeil Alexander-Walker is Virginia Tech’s first five-star men’s basketball recruit since 2011. Alexander-Walker is a projected 1st round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft by Bleacher Report. He led the Hokies in scoring in an exhibition against South Carolina. He is the most highly touted recruit in the Buzz Williams era.
Alexander-Walker has quite a bit of hype surrounding his young career. He hasn’t yet played an official game, but many Hokie fans are viewing him as the best player on a team that includes hardened veterans such as Justin Bibbs, Ahmed Hill, and Justin Robinson. Why is this the case?
Well, for starters, he is a pure scorer with really good size. 6-foot-5-inch Shooting Guards with the ability to put the ball in the basket at an elite level are very hard to come by. His ability to shoot off the dribble is something the Hokie offense will be itching for with the departure of Seth Allen.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker is originally from Toronto, Canada and was a standout at Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He was ranked 21st among all basketball recruits nationally by ESPN. He averaged 16 points per game his senior season, and Buzz Williams was drawn to his natural scoring ability when he recruited him.
Last month, Buzz praised NAW’s ability to pass, dribble and shoot, and said that he and the rest of his freshman class (which includes four-star point guard Wabissa Bede and three-star forward PJ Horne) were going to be needed to fill “all the holes in our roster.” Williams also praised NAW’s work ethic in the weight room, as he has gained 15 pounds since enrolling at Virginia Tech, going from 195 pounds in high school to 210 pounds now.
In addition to having elite offensive skill, NAW also has the potential to be a star on the defensive end. Not only did he have strong offensive stats in high school, he also averaged an astounding 3.2 steals per game. His 6-5 frame will allow him to be a vital defensive contributor in the Hokies’ backcourt. Yes, offense is what puts fans in the seats, but another tough defensive guard doesn’t hurt either.
NAW showed off all of his skills in the exhibition against South Carolina. He went 5 for 12 from the field, including going 2 for 7 from the three-point line. He was also 6 for 8 from the free throw line. His shooting percentage might not have been entirely what the Hokies and Williams would have wanted, but it was quite obvious that NAW was very comfortable in the VT offense and had no problem getting his shots up.
He led both teams in scoring, and the transition from high school to college was incredibly smooth. Though the Hokies won by double digits, USC is still a very formidable opponent, especially after going to the Final Four last season.
NAW was not intimidated by the level of opponent, and he was everything the Hokies wanted.
Expectations are very high for the young freshman, but he has all the makings of being everything the Hokies want and more.