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Nickeil Alexander-Walker


Personal Information

-       Born September 2, 1998 (20 years old)

-       Listed at 6’5, 210 pounds (HokieSports.com)

-       6’9 wingspan (SI.com article by Chris Johnson)

-       ESPN High School Ranking: 21 (2017)

-       Twitter: TheReal_NAW1

-       Instagram: N5ive_

-       Parents are Nicole Alexander and Nicholas Walker

-       3 sisters – Madison, Angel, and Angelique

-       3 brothers – Nicholas, Michael, and Nicholi

-       Was eating 4,000-5,000-calories a day with a rigorous weight-room regimen trying to get over 200 pounds this past summer (The Hokies now list Alexander-Walker at 210)” (SI.com article)

-       Majoring in Management

-       Has played in all 30 games for Virginia Tech

-       He played AAU for Canada Elite, a program that has developed Thon and Matur Maker


Personal Information Continuted

-       Bryan Colangelo’s son Mattia also played on the same team for Canada Elite

-       Also seen him in summer at the Crown League in Toronto, where his body clearly stood out in terms of length and athleticism, though he still hasn’t put it together fully yet

-       First cousins with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander on the LA Clippers – Nickeil’s mother and Shai’s father are siblings

-       Played High School Sophomore season at St. Louis Christian Academy (Roanoke.com/Hokies)

-       Played at Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Chattanooga, Tennessee with cousin Shai for Junior and Senior High School seasons (Kentucky.com article)

-       Head Coach Zach Ferrell said Nickeil and Shai are more like brothers (Kentucky.com article)

-       Nickeil grew up in Toronto, while Shai grew up in Hamilton

-       They grew up hanging out together every weekend and all summer

-       Grew up playing on every team together, never competed against each other until college


Personal Information Continuted

-       Says living on his own at HHCA has taught him about being responsible and prepared him for the next levels (YouTube interview with Meliza Hernandez)

-       Voluntarily did the laundry for everyone on AAU trips (YouTube interview with Meliza Hernandez)

-       Believes in God, says he’s been blessed with a gift (YouTube interview with Meliza Hernandez)

-       Says he needs to work on getting stronger, tightening his handle, making better reads (Interview with Jonathan Givony at Nike Hoop Summit)

-       Trying to improve his decision-making to make the right play rather than just look to score first because he said he is a natural SG (Interview with Jonathan Givony at Nike Hoop Summit)

-       Buzz Williams told Nickeil how he could help him as a person after school (Interview with Jonathan Givony at Nike Hoop Summit)

-       Describes himself as “a 6’6 combo guard that gets after it on both sides of the floor, who is always communicating on the court with teammates, a good shooter, smooth scorer and a willing unselfish passer” (2016 interview with EndlessMotor.net)

-       When asked how often he works on his game and what he emphasizes: “My goal is to get better everyday. I try to focus on improving my in-game decision making by watching a lot of ball film, along with polishing up my shot, handles, and finishing above the rim” (2016 interview with EndlessMotor.net)

-       Speaks really well in interviews, appears to be sincere and competitive


INTERVIEW WITH VIRGINIA TECH ASSISTANT COACH JAMIE MCNEILLY (JULY 2018)

What is his role on the team?

-       Hard to project his role at this point

-       Going to need him to do more than last season, not sure what that translates to specifically

-       Justin Robinson is back

-       This offseason goal is to do a little more of everything next season

What is he working on getting better at this offseason?

-       Body continuing to change, getting bigger and stronger

-       Unbelievable job with that, he is putting in a ton of work

-       Working on his footspeed

-       Continuing to work on his ball skills and using ball screens to initiate offense, a part of his game they need to utilize more

-       Changing his body this offseason will help a lot with that stuff

What is his personality?

-       Very vocal and hyper-focused in game – he is 110% focused on the team’s task no matter what it is – sometimes it requires him to talk or challenge teammates and he does it every time

-       He’s good at knowing the goal and expending all his energy trying to do that

-       Not quiet or timid by any means, but he’s also not an outgoing alpha male, he’s more about getting the job done

-       Said of the players he’s coached, his personality is more like Jae Crowder than Jimmy Butler – more selective knowing when to talk and when not to

-       A leader, not the leader with the team


interview continued

Why did he choose to go back to school?

-       He had a good feeling that there were things he still needed to improve on

-       He has to be 110% in to go, and he wasn’t certain it was the right move for him

Does he have any current injuries?

-       No, injury free, body looking great, working out at an extraordinary clip as he usually does

-       Never anything nagging even

Extra Notes

-       In the past 11 years having coached tons of NBA guys, says he’s cut from the NBA cloth

-       He’s got the work ethic, believes he has the “it” factor

-       Nickeil wants to play every possession and practice every day

-       Nickeil over-helping ballside is part of their scheme, they want to force teams to shoot more 3’s (for eg. Virginia took their most 3’s ever in Tony Bennett’s career against Virginia Tech)

-       They believe them getting into paint is going to beat out other teams taking 3’s over the course of the game

-       Some of his lack of rebounding is his size, but he is working on that

-       Coach McNeilly explains to Nickeil that sometimes doing the right thing and simply boxing out isn’t enough, he needs to box out and then secure the rebound as well


accomplishments

-       Participated in the Under Armour Elite 24 game

-       Invited to 2016 Stephen Curry Select Camp – only 20 invitees

-       Won Silver playing for Team Canada in the 2016 U18 FIBA Americas Championship in Chile – Coached by Jamie McNeilly who is an Assistant Coach at Virginia Tech

-       Played in 2017 Nike Hoop Summit

-       Named MVP of the Charleston Classic


freshman season stats

-       25.5 Minutes Per Game

-       10.7 PPG

-       3.8 RPG (0.7 Offensive)

-       1.5 APG

-       0.8 SPG

-       0.5 BPG

-       44.9% FG

-       51.6% 2 FG

-       39.2% 3 FG

-       73% FT

-       1.6 TO

-       1.5 PF


sophomore season stats (through 7 games)

-       34 Minutes Per Game

-       17.9 PPG

-       5 RPG (0.4 Offensive)

-       4.1 APG

-       2.3 SPG

-       0.6 BPG

-       53.3% FG

-       59.6% 2 FG

-       42.4% 3 FG

-       78.9% FT

-       2.1 TO

-       1.9 PF


analytics (THROUGH 7 GAMES)

-       1st in steals per game in the ACC in 2018-19 (2.3)

-       2nd in defensive win shares in the ACC in 2018-19

-       3rd in box plus/minus and defensive box plus/minus in the ACC in 2018-19

-       4th in total win shares in the ACC in 2018-19

-       5th in steal percentage, points produced per game, offensive win shares in the ACC in 2018-19

-       6th in field goals made, field goal percentage, points per game, player efficiency rating, and effective field goal percentage in the ACC in 2018-19


INJURIES

-       Seen him play AAU in 2015 for Canada Elite with a right-hand injury and he was an incredible attacker and finisher – I can remember him finishing about 4 times at the hoop in a row with his left while he couldn’t use his right



skill assessment

Legend

1 = Benchwarmer Level

2 = Role Player Level

3 = Starter Level

4 = Star Level

5 = Superstar Level

Greatest Strength: Shooting, Athleticism, Motor/Effort

Greatest Weakness: Turnovers off the dribble

Scoring: 3

3-point Shooting: 3.5

Finishing Ability: 3

Rebounding: 2

Playmaking: 2

Defending On-Ball: 3.5

Defending Off-Ball: 3.5

Size: 3.5

Athleticism: 3.5

Motor: 4


GAME ANALYSIS 1

-       February 14, 2018 at Duke

-       Matchup: Gary Trent Jr.

-       Highly active on defense helping and closing out consistently – closes under control

-       Great athlete, runs the floor quickly

-       Gave up 2 Gary Trent 3’s from overhelping unnecessarily ballside

-       0/2 on finishes at the rim

-       Bouncy athleticism

-       2/5 on catch and shoot 3’s

-       Catch and shoot 3’s – Very quick and easy release, good form, has natural strength to bring the ball right up on the catch

-       Potential to be an elite catch and shoot player

-       5 tips/steals

-       Final stats – 6 pts, 2/7 FG, 2/5 3 FG, 3 rebs (1 off), 2 asts, 4 stls, 2 TO, 33 mins


GAME ANALYSIS 2

-       February 26, 2018 vs. Duke

-       Matchup: Gary Trent Jr.

-       Long arms – tipped pass in lane

-       Takes long strides – attacked closeout and scored in traffic with one dribble

-       3/8 on 3’s in the game

-       All 3 makes were with feet set in the halfcourt (3/6 on those)

-       Showed off good shooting stroke with deep range

-       Good instincts in help

-       Needs to simplify game and improve playmaking

-       Has good touch on passes – had one nice skip pass over the zone to weakside

-       NBA finish on a shot blocker – caught in high post with Carter on him, span middle then back left for a layup

-       Offensive rebound and putback dunk

-       Missed jumper for the win

-       Final stats – 17 pts, 7/14 FG, 3/8 3 FG, 1 reb, 2 stls, 1 TO, 1 PF, 35 mins


GAME ANALYSIS 3

-       November 18, 2018 vs. Purdue

-       Matchup: Ryan Cline

Offense

-       6/10 on attacks

-       2/3 on jumpers

-       2/4 on 3s

-       3/3 on FTs

-       Made 2 good extra passes on the perimeter and created a dunk for a teammate off a drive and dumpoff

-       4 turnovers – Gets in trouble trying to make plays or being off balance off the dribble

-       Good athlete with lanky long arms

-       Didn’t explode towards the rim but had multiple moves typically stopping on 2 under control in the lane – eg. Up and under, pump and floater, spin move

-       Needs to attack more aggressively – looks to score around the defense rather than explode and take whatever contact may come

-       Quick 1st step with his left

-       Prefers attacking left

-       Good balance on attacks

-       Has a much more expanded role as the go-to scorer for Virginia Tech – they go to him at the end of the shot clock

-       High shot release

-       Much better catch and shoot shooter than off the dribble

-       Better shooting off a left dribble than a right

-       Took much better shots in the 2nd half and got hot as a result

Defense

-       Good defender, moves his feet well, takes away player’s space

-       Boxes out consistently even though he still has a small frame

-       Closes out under control with his hands up, doesn’t get into the shooters space so he won’t be called for a foul

-       In tune with the ball and his man

-       Gets to the right spots early in help

-       Crashes the glass defensively, but just an average rebounder

-       Final stats – 25 pts, 10/17 FG, 2/4 3 FG, 3/3 FTs, 7 rebs (1 off), 3 asts, 1 stl, 1 blk, 4 TOs, 1 PF, 40 mins


Overall

Scoring

Nickeil Alexander-Walker is a combo guard with great athleticism and length and a good shooting stroke. Nickeil hit 3 3’s in one game against Duke, including one from very deep. He does a nice job relocating, moving without the ball, and is very quick getting to his spot. He also did a really nice job finishing at the rim against Wendell Carter Jr., an elite shot blocker. While he didn’t finish well in one game against Duke, he does generally finish well, as evidenced by his over 60% shooting percentage from 2 on the season. He tends to stop on 2 feet under control and read how he can get his shot off and avoid the defender.

After watching Nickeil for a few games, I have noticed he does a nice job of protecting the ball with his body and finishing even when it seems unlikely. His body control and finishing ability are good. He needs to do a better job of picking when to attack and reading help defense better though as the leading scorer and go-to option on this Virginia Tech team. 

Nickeil moved from being primarily a catch and shoot player in his Freshman season to becoming the go-to scorer. He is developing feel in the midrange and has improved his footwork, but still has room to develop, get to his spots, and knock down simplified shots. He took a few out of control jumpers against Purdue (even though he hit them).

In his Freshman season Nickeil had trouble blowing by defenders consistently and scoring in the halfcourt. this year he has shown a blow-by ability with both his left and his right. I would like to see him explode more aggressively towards the rim, as he has the athleticism to be an elite finisher, but instead stops under control and reads the defense.

 Nickeil’s catch and shoot ability from 3 at this stage of his development is extremely impressive. He has a really quick release and natural strength to get his shot off from deep. Nickeil is a safe pick because his floor is a 3 and D who is now proving he can be much more. As he continues to expand his skillset and improve his shot selection he will become an obvious high 1st round pick

 Nickeil certainly needs to improve his playmaking, but he has the athleticism and basketball IQ to be a secondary playmaker. He has solid vision when under control on the catch, but doesn’t make enough plays on his attacks, aside from dumpoffs in the paint. He is unselfish, moves the ball around well, and plays within his offensive role as is evidenced by his high shooting percentage.

 Defense

Nickeil is an active defender. He gives great effort both on-ball and off. He tips a lot of balls because of his activity in the lanes and his length. On-ball, Nickeil does a nice job staying in front of players. He has an ability to get over screens and take an opponent’s space away. Even if he goes under screens, he recovers well with his length and athleticism. He can get around off-ball screens and deny shot opportunities as well.

 Nickeil is aware in weakside help, arrives early, and boxes out to try and secure the rebound. Last season I thought he was too help conscious and would over-help, resulting in open 3s, which is what happened when Gary Trent Jr. went off against him. This year he has improved his feel of when to help and is closing out under control with his hands up, without getting into the shooter’s space so they can draw the foul. He will need to add some size/strength to his frame, but he has the athletic ability and instincts to be a very good defender even in the NBA. I think he could potentially be a 1.5-2 steal a game player in the NBA.

 Alexander-Walker crashes the glass and boxes out consistently which has resulted in improved rebounding numbers. He does his part for his team, but is not a good rebounder. He definitely needs to get stronger to help box out bigger opponents, but I know he has worked hard to improve his strength.

 Final

Nickeil has all the physical tools (6’5, long wingspan, good athlete) NBA teams are looking for, and has scored at an impressive rate so far this season. He needs to improve his playmaking, aggression at the rim, and midrange game, but I think with this increased role he will continue to grow as he learns to read how defenses are preparing for him. I think Alexander-Walker already projects as a winning player because he proved he could be a good role player in his Freshman season, and is now proving he can be more in his Sophomore season. His effort is consistently good. I think he is a really intriguing NBA prospect with star potential.

PROJECTIONS

Projected Draft Position: Mid-1st Round

NBA Comparison: Better Harrison Barnes/Jeremy Lamb

NBA Projection: 3.5 – Winning Starter