A new ACT score could be the ticket to getting Virginia Tech freshman forward Landers Nolley cleared by the NCAA.
Tech men’s basketball coach Buzz Williams has said that Nolley did not play in an exhibition win over Liberty nor in the season-opening victory over Gardner-Webb because he has yet to be cleared by the NCAA.
Nolley’s high school coach, Rory Welsh of Langston Hughes High School in Fairburn, Georgia, said Tuesday that the issue involves Nolley’s ACT score.
Welsh said Nolley had the ACT score and high school grade-point average he needed to meet the NCAA’s requirements for freshman eligibility.
But Welsh said the NCAA was skeptical about Nolley’s ACT score, with the NCAA thinking it might be too high a score for the typical student with his GPA. Nolley took the test just once when he was in high school.
“He did extremely well [on the ACT],” Welsh said in a phone interview. “He’s a very intelligent kid. He really has the natural ability to be an honor student. The type of focus [he had] his last year of high school, if he would’ve had that type of focus his freshman year and his sophomore year, he probably would end up being an Ivy League-type guy, because he has that type of intelligence level.
“So they’re making him basically retake the test, simply because he did very well on it, which I thought was utterly stupid.
“Since he’s been enrolled at Virginia Tech, … he’s on track to make the honor roll for his first semester.”
Nolley took the ACT again last week, said Welsh. He said Nolley is now waiting to see what the NCAA thinks of his new score.
“We think, at the end of the day, it’s going to get ironed out,” Welsh said. “We don’t know what the score requirement they want him to meet right now [is]. We don’t know how long it’s going to take to evaluate it, get the results back.
“The man worked very hard to get to where he got, and we just hope this matter gets resolved quickly.”
Williams said after the season opener that he was “incredibly disappointed in the bureaucracy that is happening above Virginia Tech.”
As a high school senior, the 6-foot-7, 230-pound Nolley was named Georgia’s high school basketball player of the year (for all classifications) by both the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and USA Today. He averaged 31 points and eight rebounds last season, when he helped Langston Hughes win its second straight state title. He was named the No. 93 player in the nation in the 2017-18 recruiting class by ESPN.
“I’m going to be the most impactful freshman … in the country,” Nolley said at Tech’s media day last month.
Reynolds happy at A&M
Jeff Reynolds figured that unless he got another head-coaching job, he would end his career on Buzz Williams’ staff.
Then Texas A&M came calling.
Reynolds, 61, left Virginia Tech last June to become an assistant coach to Billy Kennedy at Texas A&M.
Reynolds, a former head coach at Air Force, was not one of Williams’ three assistant coaches but did have a key role on the Tech staff. He served as the director of men’s basketball operations for Williams’ first three years at Tech before having his title changed to director of scouting and game management for the 2017-18 season.
“The move here [at A&M] was extremely hard for me to make,” Reynolds said. “[But] the contract that I got here was a multi-year deal as an assistant. You don’t find that a lot as an assistant coach. The pay was significantly more. And it was also a chance for me to get on the floor and coach, and be on the road recruiting again.”
Reynolds said Kennedy, whose staff already included ex-Tech assistant Isaac Chew, called him when another assistant exited A&M. Reynolds said Kennedy was looking for a former head coach who could bring some new offensive ideas to A&M.
Reynolds worked for Williams for six years, including a stint as Williams’ director of basketball operations at Marquette.
“Coach Williams saved my career … when I got let go at Air Force,” Reynolds said. “I will forever be grateful. … Buzz and I are extremely good friends.
“It was an emotional decision [to leave Tech]. … My wife and I don’t have children, and those [Tech players] were sort of my kids.”
Reynolds’ first head-coaching job came at Carroll County High School.
“When I first went [to Tech], I was connected already because I had coached high school ball in the area,” Reynolds said. “When Buzz made the decision to come to Virginia Tech and asked me to come with him, I was jacked.”
Reynolds was the first of two former college head coaches on Williams’ staff who left over the summer. Steve Roccaforte, who was Williams’ associate head coach, left Tech last July to become an assistant at American Athletic Conference member East Carolina. Roccaforte made $246,000 at Tech last season; he is earning $115,000 at ECU this season.