Landers Nolley II is the Future

I watched every highlight video of Landers Nolley II on the interweb. Here's what I saw:


I've watched every highlight video of Landers Nolley II on the internet. Every. Single. Second. Mixtapes and post game recaps. High school and AAU. I have a Google Doc full of hot takes, many of which we'll get to shortly. But first, the hottest take of them all: Landers Nolley looks like a shorter version of Kevin Durant and it makes me tingly in all the right places.

A few caveats: Durant was a beast in high school. He was taller, longer, and more athletic than anyone else on his highlight films. Today, we think of him as a freakishly rangy player that stretches the floor better than any other guy in the NBA. But if you watch highlights from his high school days, you'll see a lot more of Durant in the paint than you will beyond the arc. He was jumping passing lanes, blocking shots, putting back bunnies, knifing through defenses and exploding to the rim. He was an effective outside shooter, but effective shooting wasn't sexy in 2005.

Durant's high school career overlapped with a flashier era of basketball, one raised on clips of Hotsauce, Spyda, Skip to My Lou and The Professor embarrassing dudes on AND1 Mixtapes. Pull-up threes aren't nearly as sexy as an up-and-under dunk.

Nolley's highlights are more "of-the-moment", in that they attempt to show how well-rounded of a player he is. Where Durant's highlight reels are more for show, Nolley's serve the modern purpose of getting the kid a scholarship offer from topflight programs. You see most facets of his game: catch-and-shoot situations; pull-up jumpers; driving the lane; floaters in traffic; running the break; and running the point.

Note that I didn't list "playing defense." It's not entirely fair, because there a few clips here-and-there of Nolley catching errant passes and the occasional off-ball interception. But for the most part, we're not treated to Nolley's on-ball defense (which may or may not be an indictment on his defensive talents — remember, much like Durant's highlight videos, certain aspects aren't sexy).

The biggest takeaway is how effortlessly Nolley plays the game. Much like Durant, he's a long strider, bounding up the court with the ball in his hands before gliding through the air for what looks like an easy layup or dunk. He shoots the ball similarly. Whether on the bounce or via pass, Nolley looks like he's taking warm-up shots until you realize he released the ball so quickly that, by the time the hapless defender reacts, the ball is virtually at the rim. His stance is rather narrow, but (again) like Durant, he brings the ball up from his waist, rising tall and extending upward to get good leverage on his shot.

Nolley led the state of Georgia in scoring his senior season, helping Langston Hughes to their second consecutive 6A state title with a 34-point, 10-board, 6-assist display. That's nothing to sneeze at, considering the four players ranked ahead of Nolley in the state's 2018 recruiting class are each SEC commits, including 5-star, Top 12 (nationally) Kentucky signees EJ Montgomery and Ashton Wiggins.

Nolley scored 56 points in a high school game. He also holds the school record for three-pointers in a game, dropping 10 on a helpless opponent. He was the Class 6A North player of the year his senior season. On the AAU circuit, he finished in the Top 50 in scoring in the 2017 Nike EYBL, averaging 13.4 PPG. He shot 50% from both the floor and behind the arc. Oh, and his game high of 29 points tied for the 30th highest single-game talley, despite only appearing in 9 games.

The kid is a scorer, and not just in that "every Division-1 recruit was a scorer in high school" kind of way. His game has depth. He's got range. He can take guys off the dribble. And if the preseason measurables are any indication, he's got the size to compete in the ACC right now.

The one area that I would like to see improvement is the physical side of his game. While Nolley's videos show plenty of dunks, he doesn't look overly explosive or like much of a leaper. He can dunk the ball, no doubt. But when he takes off, he doesn't have the look of a guy that is going to explode out of the gym. Much like the rest of his game, his slams are relatively blue collar.

When driving the lane, he pulls up with little verticality on his jumpers and floaters. It's a trait that looked perfectly fine against high school talent, but could pose a problem against ACC front courts. I'd love to see him engage defenders more when driving into the paint, much like Ahmed Hill does. Floaters are all well and good, but someone who is 6'-7" and 230 lbs should regularly be aggressive when attacking the rim. Leave the soft stuff to the point guards and get yourself to the charity stripe, young fella. With that being said, the kid shows some nifty perimeter moves to get to the rim.

To borrow a television term, let's remove the fourth wall for a second. When I first conceived of this column, I wanted it to be tongue-in-cheek. I would watch all of Nolley's highlight videos and gush over his otherworldliness. The article title would be something along the lines of, "I've Watched Every Landers Nolley Highlight Video and Here's Why He's the Next Great Thing", or "ZION WHO?!" But then again, I did compare him to Kevin Durant, so...

Not to minimize Nolley's talents, but after watching the videos I realized this wouldn't have the intended effect. The truth is, Nolley looks like a really solid player who could do great things in Blacksburg. He's got good size, athleticism and fundamentals. He fills up the score sheet and has proven his ability to put the ball in the basket against all levels of competition. In short, he's got game.

Despite playing in the second most competitive classification in Georgia, Nolley repeatedly looked like a man among boys. It wasn't solely a physical advantage — Nolley's skillset is so far and above his opposition that it's impossible to miss.

At the same time, his game isn't electric. Where Chris Clarke often looks like he's going to explode through your television screen, the effortless appearance of Nolley's game feels more yeoman-like than devastating. He has the look of a guy that laces 'em up and clinically destroys you over the course of 40 minutes.

It will be interesting to see how Buzz integrates Nolley into the current rotation. With the indefinite suspension of Clarke, there is certainly a void to fill on the wing. Nolley's game right now is quite different from Clarke's and more similar to Ty Outlaw's, the most likely candidate to replace Clarke in the starting five to begin the season. He should slot in right behind Hill, Outlaw and Nickeil Alexander-Walker once his eligibility situation is cleared up. Whether or not he's able to displace an early season starter remains to be seen. It certainly won't be for a lack of trying.

During his recruitment, Nolley stated the following:

Wherever I can go in and start immediately. I don't want to go in my freshman year and play behind someone. I feel like I can fit into any system, I've shown that in high school. I can play in the run and gun, play with a slower tempo, pick and roll, coming off screens. I feel like I can do it all, so it doesn't really matter."

Fitting into the offensive system isn't my primary concern. He's a perfect fit for Buzz's offense, providing a capable perimeter scoring threat with great length to boot. In order for the Hokies to succeed this season, they'll also need Nolley to use his size to fill the lane and attack the glass.

Based on the film, he looks more like the young wings Tech fans are accustomed to seeing early in their careers. Guys like Carlos Dixon, A.D. Vassallo, Justin Bibbs and NAW earned minutes as freshmen by consistently shooting the ball well from the perimeter. The confidence gained through that early experience was utilized — in various ways — to develop their skill sets over time and become more than capable spot-up shooters, like a poor man's JJ Reddick.

There's a reason why recruiting services are so flawed. There are far too many variables in accurately projecting talent. Whether it's the physical aspects of playing high-major college basketball, or the mental challenges facing these kids the second they arrive on campus, it's impossible to know exactly how successful any one player will ultimately be.

Landers Nolley II looks to have a high floor and a very high ceiling. Will he become the next Kevin Durant? It's highly unlikely. What is more important is that he not only has the ability to step in right now and become an important contributor on a veteran team, but he has the look of a future leader of this program (assuming he doesn't leave early for the NBA...).


Like any team, the fastest way to earn your spot is to show you are willing and able to do the dirty work. In basketball that means chasing down loose balls, locking down your man on defense, crashing the glass and still getting back on defense. All the things that don't make highlight reels, but make a really solid team. These are things that only take effort more so than talent. As a young player entering a deeper talent pool, Nolley might struggle early to adapt to the higher level of competition, but effort doesn't need time to adapt.

Come to Blacksburg and see what the Hokie Pokie is really all about

I saw him play last year in a playoff game where he went for 37 with a ton of 3's against Allatoona. He shot the lights out of the gym. I wonder about that 230 weight that's listed. He didn't look 230 at the time.

I also think he goes by "Sanchez". That's what the Hughes fans I talked to were calling him.

Hopefully the half year of a college S&C program have him at a legit 230, which is still a good size for basketball, don't need to look like a LB to be successful on the hardwood.

Come to Blacksburg and see what the Hokie Pokie is really all about

If he went by Sanchez in high school and now he'll be asked to do the dirty work, does his nickname change to "Dirty Sanchez"?

"For those who have passed, for those to come, reach for excellence."

Kevin Durant?!?!


If we get a 1/3 of what KD is, I'll take it! You're making it really hard to temper my expectations for this season though with that one PB.

"...I'm getting a little tired of hearing how good everybody else is..." -Coach Fu [This week: 1-0]

Yea I think we probably could have found somebody of a less house hold name like Durant to make a better comparison.

Durant was a stud and could argue, a generational talent. If he ends up being a 1/3 of Durant like you mentioned, Landers will be a very good player for us.

Bleeding burnt orange and chicago maroon

I feel like I need to step in here. I did not compare Nolley's potential to Durant — I simply stated that he looked like Durant. Shooting motion, gait, disposition, etc. When watching Nolley, he reminds me of Durant. Go watch his highlight videos — it might surprise you.

I think Brian's comparison to A.D. Vassallo is spot on. But if I led the article off with that nugget, half the audience would have wondered who the hell A.D. Vassallo is.

I know you didn't compare his potential but people can easily get confused with that when you say he looks like Durant.

And this is just my opinion, but I think majority of the audience here would know who A.D. Vassallo is.

Bleeding burnt orange and chicago maroon

if I led the article off with that nugget, half the audience would have wondered who the hell A.D. Vassallo is.

Then half the audience needs to learn themselves a little bit on VT Basketball. Finished his VT career 5th in all time points despite being 29th in all time FG shot attempts, 1st in made 3 pointers, and All-ACC honors. Arguably the best offensive talent we've had since Bimbo Coles and Dell Curry.

"I regret nothing. The end." - Ron Swanson

Space the floor nicely for Delaney, who never met a shot he didn't like. Surprised he is 29th in attempts.

The Dude Abides

PB, I was more so joking, I completely understood that you weren't comparing him to the Slim Reaper. I think if he were that good, he wouldn't be going to VT, he'd be going to the UK's, and KU's of the world. Nevertheless I can see the shooting style comparisons, and the ability to get to the rim. Like you said I don't see much athleticism, but this goes back to my original point, if he can be 1/3 of Durant, or even an ADV, I'm all up for that, loved Vassallo.

"...I'm getting a little tired of hearing how good everybody else is..." -Coach Fu [This week: 1-0]

I guarded AD my senior year (2014) at McComas. I remember him coming in because someone got hurt. After one trip down the court I was running back, looked at him, and asked "AD? Are you AD Vassallo?"
"Yes, I played Varsity here."
"No, I know, you were my favorite player as a kid."

Not a lot of guys get to guard their favorite player from growing up, but I guess not a lot of people's favorite player never made the NBA.

Rip his freaking head off!

I was also matched up on him in a pick-up game at the War once. He was clearly just messing around because I striped the rock from him while he was driving to the basket and later drained a pull up j on him. Man I wish I could go back in time... I'd take state.

...I striped the rock from him while he was driving to the basket...

What did he do to you (on the court) after you did this? Did he torch the bucket in revenge, or did he just acknowledge your nice play and continue to mess around?

If you're not sure if my comment warrants a "/s", it probably does.

He just continued to mess around. I've played quite a lot of basketball since I was a child, and I continue to play with a group every Wednesday night so I'm no slouch, but even when I was in my 20's I was far from D1 talent. I definitely accepted the challenge and enjoyed testing my skills against him, but I wasn't going at it like it was game 7. I fully acknowledge that he could've sought some revenge, but it boils down to just another pick-up game out of thousands for both of us. Still a pretty cool memory though

I was and Intramural ref for 3 years and would see AD playing half-speed games at War quite frequently. At first I was worried about an Antone Exum rec ball injury, but when you watched he was definitely half-assing it to get some shots off with at least someone playing a little defense.

Come to Blacksburg and see what the Hokie Pokie is really all about

I saw him and Jeff allen "go at it" in McComas. I have that it quotes because it was really just them going back in forth splashing 30ft shots

Surely there are other players that look like Durant that aren't future HOFers. Brandon Ingram? I actually don't know. Durant is just so unique.

A mix of the Jackson twins and Kevin Durant will be I asking too much?

I think there were 5 Jacksons

Jackson twins

David Jackson had hops.

ah yes, David Jackson, one of the best Gunners to ever grace the Slamball courts:

FOSTERS: Australian for defense

If there's anything I leaned from the other Landers thread is that his eligibility was restored when Black Robert Downey Jr rode in on the back of Trogdor and gave the NCAA all the Bojangles. ALL of them.

I found TKP after two rails from TOTS then walking back to my apartment and re-watching the 2012 Sugar Bowl. I woke up the next day with this username.

I hope Nolley has a great career at VT, and he sounds like a really good prospect. But I'm always going to roll my eyes at a Kevin Durant comparison.

A lot of people talked about Nickeil Alexander-Walker as a potential one-and-done player and he ended up averaging 10.7 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. Nice season for a freshman for sure, but not close to being an NBA talent.

Still, VT seems set up for some long-term success, which is pretty exciting.

The doll's trying to kill me and the toaster's been laughing at me.

Looking at Clip 3....

Are you telling me this kid has Steph Curry range? Because it looks like you're telling me this kid has Steph Curry range

"I regret nothing. The end." - Ron Swanson

YEP! Steph Curry Range, Lebron James vision, Kevin Durant mid-range game, Joel Embiid's rebounding, and Kyrie Irving's handle.

Come to Blacksburg and see what the Hokie Pokie is really all about

And the Kurt Rambis meanstreak????

Charles Barkley's golf swing - am I doing this right?

No. John Rambo meanstreak.

If you're not sure if my comment warrants a "/s", it probably does.

and the Zach LeDay scowl... I hope

God I miss him. Wish we could have kept his brother

Live in Greenville and saw his brother's first game with the Pirates. Had some nice hustle plays to get them going and then a dunk where he just exploded to the rim after an offensive rebound.

Spenge the Man. Go Hokies!

He's the kinda guy we need right now. He's probably pretty similar to Horne, but we could use two Horne's now that Clarke is gone.

Speaking of Zach LeDay, he has a pretty sweet deal for himself. He's playing for one of Europe's top teams, Olympiacos, for coach David Blatt. Apparently LeDay is making the equivalent of like $400k this year. Not quite NBA money, but good for him.

That sounds like good money until you remember it's Greece, so it's not real money. It is a few dozen goats and a bunch of Feta Cheese Futures stock.

The Dude Abides

I'd have my paycheck converted to any other currency so fast......

If you're not sure if my comment warrants a "/s", it probably does.

And John Stockton's assist abilities

Hopefully he gets on the court soon then because if he is anything like you describe he will be a lottery pick next year methinks...

I can imagine no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction:
“I served in the United States Navy"


(F)landers is going to be a goodly-good player.

But Zion Williamson tho.


Outside it's night time, but inside it's LeDay

today I learned that a 17 year old (18 year old?) boy makes Pierson "tingly in all the right places."

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

Kid reminds me a little of a longer AD Vassallo. Nice range, not a ton of bounce, but a craftier game than you'd think. Has the body to play stretch four (or the stretch four equivalent in a 4-guard offense).

Fitting him in on defense could be an issue, because I'm not sure if he's quick enough to keep up with guards or strong enough to play bigger guys. But that's still looking down the line, defense would improve with time.

AD was a cool customer. He didn't seem to get too excited, but as you said, was crafty. I can almost envision him shooting that three with a toothpick in the corner of his mouth.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

I like more athletic Travis Outlaw based off of what I've seen.

Nice. Good to hear that he's a real team-first guy, a coach's son, a real gym rat, a first-guy-in, last-guy-out type of guy.

On a side note, have you seen how big his hands are?

Landers Nolley II is the future

But is he the present? Any word on the eligibility situation? I'm excited for his future too but I want to see him tomorrow night damn it! He may not have been as highly rated as a guy like Nickeil in the previous class, but he has the playstyle of someone who can contribute immediately.

Your mention of Street Ball got me tingly in all the right places. OH BABY

Just thinking about how fun this team will be to watch this season.

Tyrod did it Mikey, Tyrod did it!!

superstar worthy name, i buy the hype on that alone

this type of analysis also probably explains why i've been repeatedly disappointed in fantasy sports

last time i ever draft jackmerius tacktheritrix in the first round.

Shoulda drafted

exit light

How the hell have we not retired his jersey? I want Plural up there next to Vick and Beamer

If you'd have drafted my boy L'Carpetron, you'd be in first place.

“You got one guy going boom, one guy going whack, and one guy not getting in the endzone.”
― John Madden (describing VT's offense?)

Hopefully he plays

Don't count on it...maybe next year?

This is a spectacular article about an all-everything player. Just one question: what about Wilkins???

Waho's suck
Uva swallows