Growing up 15 minutes from Blacksburg in Radford, Virginia Tech coach Mike Young may have received his dream job after 17 seasons at Wofford, but the dream may have become a nightmare had he not convinced redshirt freshman Landers Nolley II to stay. Fresh off a record-setting performance against Clemson, Nolley and the Hokies will aim for a second straight victory when they host Coppin State on Friday.
Buzz Williams used the Hokies' school-record 26 wins and a Sweet 16 berth last season to land the Texas A&M job, opening the position for Young. The Hokies lost their top five scorers, including star forward Kerry Blackshear Jr. (14.9 points, 7.5 rebounds) to Florida, but Young persuaded Nolley and junior Wabissa Bede (3.8 points) to stay. Nolley scored a game-high 30 points - most by a Virginia Tech freshman in his collegiate debut - and Bede made the defensive play of the game coming up with a loose ball down the stretch in the Hokies' 67-60 win at Clemson on Tuesday in the ACC opener. "About 20 minutes after I got on campus and we worked out," Young said when asked when he realized that Nolley could be a go-to scorer. "He's just one of those guys. You watch him play for a little bit, and 'Whoa!' He's a pretty talented guy. He knows how to put the thing in the bottom of the barrel."
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ACC Network Extra
ABOUT COPPIN STATE (0-1): The Eagles have won 38 games in the last five seasons and opened 2019-20 with a 91-84 defeat against Rider despite 24 points by Kamar McKnight - a grad transfer who averaged 11.8 points at Tennessee State last season, including a 30-point explosion against Western Kentucky. Third-year coach and former Maryland star Juan Dixon returns just one of his seven top scorers, 6-2 junior Dejuan Clayton (14.5 points, 3.8 assists), who had 17 points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals in 38 minutes in the opener. Twins Aaron (15 points, 5-of-11 beyond the arc) and Andrew Robinson (nine points, seven rebounds), grad transfers from Quinnipiac, will play big minutes this season as well.
ABOUT VIRGINIA TECH (1-0): Playing in front of numerous relatives and friends who made the two-hour drive from his hometown of Atlanta, Nolley, who sat out last season because of an NCAA-related matter, made 12-of-23 shots, including four 3-pointers. The 6-7 swingman, who took more shots than any other Hokie since 2008, averaged 29.8 points as a senior in high school; he will need to have a gigantic season if the Hokies are to outplay their preseason pick of finishing 14th in the ACC. Another freshman, 6-3 guard Nahiem Alleyne, added 11 points and Bede finished with seven points, six assists and eight rebounds for the Hokies, who shot just 38.6 percent from the floor.
1. The Hokies' performance made a winner of Mike Young in his debut as the Virginia Tech head coach. The victory was the 300th of Young's coaching career - 299 of which came during his tenure at Wofford.
2. The Hokies also lost Nickeil Alexander-Walker (16.2 points, 4.0 assists) to the NBA and Ahmed Hill (13.1 points), Justin Robinson (13.5 points, 5.0 assists) and Ty Outlaw (8.6 points) to graduation.
3. Nolley's 30 points are the most by a Tech freshman in any game since Jalen Hudson scored 32 against Wake Forest in the first round of the 2015 ACC Tournament.
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Blacksburg, Virginia, USA.