Starting for three different schools in four seasons, Landers Nolley II has had the type of college career that has become increasingly familiar in the transfer portal era.
When Nolley leads fourth-seeded Cincinnati against visiting Virginia Tech in the opening round of the National Invitation Tournament on Wednesday, he will face one of his former teams.
Nolley, who leads the Bearcats (21-12) in scoring at 16.6 points per game, started his college career with the Hokies, leading them in scoring with a 15.5 average in the 2019-20 season.
Just one problem. He was recruited to play by Buzz Williams, who departed after Nolley’s redshirt season. Nolley played a year for Williams’ successor, Mike Young, before bolting for Memphis, where he led the Tigers to the 2021 NIT title and was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
Nolley moved on to Cincinnati this year and helped the Bearcats to their most wins in a season since they last made the NCAA Tournament in 2018-19.
Joining David DeJulius, who averages 14.5 points and 5.2 assists, in the backcourt, the duo helped earn the Bearcats long-shot consideration for the NCAA tourney.
But that hope ended Saturday in the American Athletic Conference tournament semifinals with a 69-48 loss to Houston when Nolley and DeJulius combined to make 4 of 23 shots.
“You always want more,” second-year coach Wes Miller said. “We’re at Cincinnati. The standard is to play in the NCAA Tournament.”
Virginia Tech (19-14) was seeking a third straight NCAA bid. But that goal vanquished in the second round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament with the Hokies’ most decisive loss, 97-77, to North Carolina State.
The Hokies were outrebounded 33-23 and allowed the Wolfpack to make 61.9 percent of their shots from the floor.
One positive for Virginia Tech was the play of Rodney Rice. The freshman, who suffered injuries that have limited him to seven games, had 17 points, hitting 5 of 7 shots from beyond the arc.
Virginia Tech last played Cincinnati in 1991 when both teams were members of the Metro Conference.
Young has a 10-8 record against Miller during their years as head coaches in the Southern Conference. Young was at Wofford and Miller at UNC-Greensboro.
“Their guard play is good. I really like DeJulius,” Young said of the Bearcats. “Typical of Wes’ teams, they will guard you.”
The winner will face Hofstra (24-9) or top-seeded Rutgers (19-14).
–Field Level Media