College basketball is over and it’s now NBA Mock Draft Season around the internet. This happens to be especially relevant for Virginia Tech basketball fans because there could be a player to beat the highest draft pick since Dell Curry in 1986 (15th overall) and the first Hokie drafted since Erick Green (46th overall) in 2013. That player is Nickeil Alexander-Walker. The sophomore from Toronto, Canada was one of Virginia Tech’s most crucial players this season, averaging a team-high 16.2 points per game while shooting 47% from the field. His natural scoring ability and defensive efficiency shows a pro-ready, albeit raw, prospect that has the chance to be a solid player in the NBA.
Up until the draft occurs on June 20, the Collegiate Times will take a look at the top mock drafts from around the internet and keep up with Alexander-Walker’s potential landing spots leading up to the 2019 NBA Draft in Brooklyn.
Gary Parrish, CBS Sports — Orlando Magic, 16th overall
“Alexander-Walker made a significant jump from his freshman season to his sophomore season and averaged 16.2 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists for a Virginia Tech team that made the Sweet 16 for just the second time in school history. More importantly, for his NBA future at least, Alexander-Walker showed he's a 6’5” guard capable of playing on or off the ball and guarding at least three positions — all of which is why NBA scouts have been buzzing about him since November.”
Chris Guest, Soaring Down South — Portland Trail Blazers, 25th overall
“The Virginia Tech Hokies were a terrific team this season and they made it to back-to-back Sweet 16s under the leadership of head coach Buzz Williams, who promptly bolted to his home state of Texas to serve as Texas A&M’s head coach.
VT played hard and tough, and they were among the toughest teams in the ACC all year — giving Duke all they could handle in multiple matchups before finally falling to the Blue Devils in the Sweet 16 (in painful fashion):
One VT player who came into the year high on many pundits’ draft boards was Nickeil Alexander-Walker, the cousin of the LA Clippers’ Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Walker started the year hot but cooled off considerably in conference play. Still though, NAW showed plenty of flashes of two-way upside with an impressive 3.4 percent steal rate (which ranked top 70 in the country per KenPom) and his length and speed allowed to get to the rim consistently.
Though the Blazers drafted two guards in the 2018 NBA Draft (Anfernee Simons and Gary Trent Jr.), Alexander-Walker projects to have more defensive panache, and he can also switch a bit more than those two can.
Beyond that, obtaining NAW with the 26th pick in the draft would be a huge steal, considering how high his stock has been for much of the college season.”
Nbadraft.net — Charlotte Hornets, 12th overall
“Projected as a potential late-lottery pick … Has the look of a great complimentary player at the NBA level ... His natural scoring abilities and consistent high level of play will make an immediate impact on whatever team he is drafted to … If he adds some more muscle, he has potential to be an NBA starter …”
Jonathan Givony, ESPN — Boston Celtics, 22nd overall
“The Celtics are loaded at the guard spots, but with both Kyrie Irving and Terry Rozier entering free agency, finding a strong backup in the draft would be wise.
Alexander-Walker is coming off an outstanding sophomore season, making significant strides on both ends of the floor. He has the perimeter-shooting ability, length, feel and versatility that Boston typically covets.”
NBC Sports Washington — Oklahoma City Thunder, 21st overall
“Alexander-Walker is the straw that stirs the drink for Virginia Tech, but oftentimes the Hokies need him to do everything and, as demonstrated in the Sweet 16 loss to Duke, he's not there just yet. But he'll be there very soon.”
Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report — Utah Jazz, 23rd overall
“Alexander-Walker's stock took a hit over the final two months as he struggled to finish against quality opponents. He still made notable strides this season, particularly as a playmaker averaging 4.0 assists. After a second season shooting at least 37.0 percent from three, the 6'5" combo guard should have a strong-enough first-round case.”
Average Draft Position - 20
It seems as though scouts and pundits value Alexander-Walker for his combo guard and 3-D versatility. A lack of “elite” athleticism and his small contribution in points during ACC play draws concerns. But he should be able to prove doubters wrong during the NBA Draft Combine in May.