Farmville, Virginia is a real place and in that real town sits a really small school named Longwood University. An enrollment of 5,096 to be exact and their basketball program is the real deal.
Last season, the Lancers made their first NCAA Tournament in school history. Although they didn’t win a game, their journey to that moment is what makes it special. Before Griff Aldrich arrived, the program was in the dumps. Just another middling small school in a small conference. Then came Shabooty Phillips and then this team. The man who formerly worked in energy private equity and oil & gas after law, Aldrich, has turned a program that was once the laughingstock of the college basketball world into a mid-major to be frightened of. They might have lost one game in conference play last season, but this season they hope to bounce back even stronger.
The Lancers return their second through seven leading scorers but padded on to it a bit in the transfer portal. Adding a Southern Miss and UT Arlington transfer might not look like a lot, but the way they transform talent in Farmville and by the way Griff and his staff have recruited in this past cycle… it’s showing intent to make this a big deal.
Longwood Transfer Additions:
Walyn Napper, Southern Miss
7.8 Points/2.9 Rebounds/4.1 Assists/40.8% FG%/33.3% 3-pt%
Nicolas Elame, UT Arlington
8.2 Points/3.4 Rebounds/44.9% FG%/32% 3-pt%
This might not look like a lot for a normal team but in a guard-heavy league like the Big South, the Lancers have a dispensable crew.
Walyn Napper comes over from Southern Miss where he dominated towards the end of his stay. He started the final six games of the season, only shooting under 44.4% once in that span and scoring double digits in all. In an overtime loss against Rice, he played all 45 minutes, scoring 29 points. It was the second time that he scored 20+ on the season, scoring 21 against UTSA on February 17th. Napper will be one of those guys that’ll have you guys saying, “Where the hell did Griff Aldrich get this guy?” The late season scouting helped him get this steal.
To accompany him in an already strong backcourt, the Lancers added Nicolas Elame from UT Arlington. Coming over from France, Elame scored 17 points three times in a Mavs uniform, most notably in a start against Troy in the last week of the season (end of the season eyeball emoji again). He’s shown signs with his rebounding as well, picking up nine three times, so he’s definitely a guard that Griff can mold into his own.
Add Isaiah Wilkins (12.7 PPG), DeShaun Wade (11.8 PPG) and Nate Lliteras (6.0 PPG) to this backcourt and they could once again have the deadliest backcourt in the Big South.