Virginia Tech and Buzz Williams picked up a Top-100 player last week when four-star guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker committed last Thursday.
A product of Hamilton Heights Christians, he still has one year left to work with his high school coach, Zach Farrell. Farrell detailed the impact that Alexander-Walker will have on the Hokies and how he fits into their system.
“I see it as a fantastic fit, both culturally and basketball-wise,” Coach Zach Farrell said. “The way they play is pretty slow, an opportunity to have the ball in his hands, I think is a great opportunity to make an impact early for him. Most importantly, I see him fitting into the culture, the hard work, the learning, the togetherness that Coach Buzz [Williams] so highly emphasizes and seems to really be able to thrive in that environment. I think it’s going to be a great fit.”
In an interview after his commitment, Alexander-Walker said he needs to work on his strength and his decision-making. His high school coach said the same thing.
“The two things that he’ll need to work on – and he will improve on quickly when he’s there – overall, his physical strength and just ability in that realm,” Farrell said. “And also just his being able to take care of the ball as he transitions to be more of a lead, or having the ball in his hands, just taking care of it and making the right decisions and learning the game more I think are things that he’ll definitely improve on and quickly get better at while he’s there.”
Even though Alexander-Walker has areas that need improvement, there’s a reason he’s such a highly rated recruit.
“He handles the ball at both ends,” Farrell said, “he shoots it at a high level like a two-guard, but has the want to get his teammates the ball, and run an offense like a point guard does, so his ability to play both – all – guard positions at a high level, I think, will make him incredibly valuable, as well as his ability to guard on the ball.
“He’s big enough that he can guard all the way up to the three, being 6’5”," Ferrell continued, "but he’s determined enough, moves well enough, and gets low enough to guard point guards, even smaller guards. So his versatility, offensively and defensively, I think, are great assets and will allow him to be a great player on that roster.”
Farrell sees Alexander-Walker developing his ball handling and making the transition to point guard in college.
“Right now, he’s a combo guard and plays a little bit more as a two,” Farrell said, “but I really see him being able to play the point guard position at a high level when he gets there and really be able to develop his game at that level.”
An important aspect to Alexander-Walker’s game is his defense. He’s changed the outcome of games based purely on his defensive will, according to his coach.
“I saw him take over multiple big games for us on the defensive end,” Farrell said. “Just determined that we weren’t going to lose and he was going to make the plays that had to be made in order for us to win the game. He had several games where he had huge defensive stops by guarding other teams’ best player.”
Alexander-Walker didn’t just take over games on the defensive end.
“He had several other games where he hit big time shots,” Farrell said. “I think just his will to win, his will to compete, and then just daily, his desire to do whatever it takes every single day in order to make himself a better player the next day are things that are really special for me to watch and to see him and watch him grow each day.”
Alexander-Walker isn’t just bringing his game to Blacksburg. He’s also bringing his work ethic.
“He just cares about others,” Farrell said. “He’s very unselfish. He just has a great desire to be better the next day than he is that day. I think that desire is what’s allowed him to get to this level and that’s what’s going to allow him to be successful at the next.”