Virginia Tech guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker, projected as a potential lottery pick, announced Sunday night that he will enter the 2019 NBA Draft, forgoing his final two seasons of eligibility.
Alexander-Walker, a cousin of Clippers rookie and 11th overall pick Shai Gilgeous-Walker, played his way into the top half of many 2019 mock drafts by averaging a team-best 16.2 points per game as well as 4.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists this season for the Hokies, who advanced to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16.
“It’s been an incredible journey, and I’m so grateful for the last two years,” Alexander-Walker posted, in part, on Twitter. He said he would hire an agent, thus eliminating the possibility of returning to Virginia Tech under new coach Mike Young.
I am forever indebted, you accepted a young kid from Scarborough with open arms. This is always gonna be a place that I call home. I will never forget the first feeling of stepping on Cassell floor. Again Thank You. You are Loved dearly!🧡 pic.twitter.com/ojXxHzHnYR
— Nickeil Alexander (@TheReal_NAW1) April 8, 2019
NBA Draft Net has him going No. 12 to the Hornets, in a draft rich with guard talent at the top, though its profile of Alexander-Walker describes him as having “the look of a great complementary player at the NBA level.” Still, “(h)is natural scoring abilities and consistent high level of play will make an immediate impact on whatever team he is drafted to,” and he has the potential to grow into a starter, the site concludes.
As with most players as young as Alexander-Walker (he won’t turn 21 until September), he’ll need to add muscle to his 6-foot-5 frame.
The Roanoke Times notes that Alexander-Walker’s decision means Young will face a major makeover of the Hokies roster in his first season as at least four of Virginia Tech’s top six players this season must be replaced.
In addition to Alexander-Walker’s exit, Justin Robinson, Ahmed Hill and Ty Outlaw were seniors. Second-team All-ACC selection Kerry Blackshear Jr., a fourth-year junior in 2018-19, has graduated and could stay or opt to be a graduate transfer elsewhere.
If Alexander-Walker, a native of Toronto, is taken in the first round, as projected, he would be the first early entry from Virginia Tech to be selected in the NBA Draft.