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Projecting Nickeil Alexander-Walker’s Role in 2017

Projecting the freshman class, part three.

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Virginia Tech Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

Over the last few days, I’ve looked at and projected the roles and stats for each of the Hokies’ 2017 recruits for the men’s basketball team. In case you missed it, PJ Horne was featured three days ago, Wabissa Bede two days ago, and today I finish up with the prize recruit of the class, Nickeil Alexander-Walker.

Walker’s strength is simple. He is a natural scorer, and can do so at all three levels. That already makes him an essential piece to the team, especially with the loss of Seth Allen, another versatile scorer.

But as talented as Walker is, he is in the same situation as fellow freshman Wabissa Bede. There is simply so much talent and depth at both guard spots. The fringe five-star does have a size advantage, being listed at 6-foot-5. That immediately opens him up for consideration as a wing. Last season, Buzz played both Bibbs and Hill at those spots interchangeably because they had length to matchup with opponent’s wings. To play that position successfully, Walker still has to prove he can be an effective defender, an aspect of the game in which nearly all freshmen experience a steep learning curve.

Offensively, Walker can create as well. His scoring ability will cause the defense to gravitate towards him, leaving shooters open on the perimeter. This adds another dimension to the Hokies’ ability to put up points, which they have done a good job of over the last two seasons.

To summarize, Walker has the talent to start as a freshman in the deepest league in the country. It is no coaching secret that having your best talent on the floor gives you the best chance to win games. If he can push for a starting role over seniors Ahmed Hill or Justin Bibbs, that will let you know just how talented he is. I suspect he starts the year as a sixth man, but makes a big impact and finishes the year top 5 in minutes played on the team, barring injury.

Projected Role/Stats: 24 minutes/game, 11 PTS/3 RBS/3 AST