By Mychal Hunter
This offseason is young, but is already a whirlwind. The transfer list is at 678 as of the writing of this entry. The ACC is experiencing a ton of attrition as Virgnia Tech continues to lose players (Kerry Blackshear Jr. this week), while teams like Notre Dame, Clemson and Georgia Tech continue to scour the graduate transfer market to fill roster holes.
The Hokies did receive some great news this week as freshman wing Landers Nolley decided to return to Blacksburg and play for new head coach Mike Young.
Nolley, a 6’7 wing out of Georgia, sat out the 2018-19 season due to a “questionable” ACT score, according the NCAA. As far as we know now, he should be eligible and good to go next season.
I saw Nolley play on the AAU circuit for Team Loaded NC a couple years ago. His back court mate was current Houston guard Nate Hinton and they were nothing less than dynamic. At 6’7 Nolley is able to rise up over perimeter defenders as well as challenge rim protectors in the paint. He is a three level scorer who will most likely be the beneficiary of a system that turned Fletcher Magee into a scoring machine at Wofford.
In news that won’t receive as much attention, Wyatt Walker will not be returning to North Carolina State next season. The graduate transfer from Samford averaged 4.8 points and 4.5 rebounds in 18 minutes per game for the Wolfpack last season.
I was sitting in a small pizzeria just off of the NC State campus yesterday for lunch and overheard some guys talking about how they were glad Walker would not be returning. This stance is ill advised. While coach Kevin Keatts plays a style that does not showcase his big men, as a whole, the ACC typically boasts high end front court talent. Walker’s numbers didn’t blow you away by any means, but he was a valuable piece on the chess board.
DJ Funderburk is the player most likely to benefit from this defection, but is that a great thing? While DJ was incredible this season, and definitely one of the surprise players in the ACC, I am not sure more minutes equals more production. In a shade under 20 minutes per game this year he averaged just under 3 fouls per game. His per 40 number being 5.9.
Ian Steere was in town for about 14 seconds last year before transferring to St. Johns which leaves RS freshman Manny Bates as the only additional big man on the roster. Bates, a former top 100 recruit, is coming off a redshirt season in which he had to have shoulder surgery. He was known as more of a defensive big man with raw offensive skills coming into Raleigh and now he going to be thrown directly into the fire. I believe he is recovered from the surgery, as there were rumblings of burning the red shirt late in the season if I remember correctly.
The Pack do have graduate transfer Pat Andree coming in from Lehigh as well. Andree averaged 13, 6.2 and 1.7 last season for the Mountain Hawks and while he is a power forward, he is quite perimeter orientated and not a great defender or rim protector. He did shoot more triples than deuces last season however, which will make him a weapon offensively.
The Pack currently have 1 spot open (possibly more depending on the draft decisions of Jalen Lecque and Markell Johnson) so it would not be shocking to see them get involved with some graduate transfer big men.