As the musical chairs game that is Texas Tech’s scholarship situation plays out, it seems highly likely that some familiar faces will be gone next year. In fact, some of those faces have already left, as Andrei Savrasov and Russel Tchewa have already found new homes at Georgia Southern and USF respectively while Davide Moretti took a deal with Olimpia Milano. Check out our live roster updates article for more information on those guys (and the ever-changing roster situation). For now, though, I am going to try to be as objective as possible in analyzing Clarence Nadolny’s situation:
Nadolny is the last remaining guy in the trio of freshman that played sparingly last year, and although the guard slot is seemingly stacked, there is a relative path towards him getting playing time. This past season saw Nadolny play only 11.4% of the minutes for Tech, and only 7.7% of minutes in conference play. The highest amount of minutes that he received in the conference play was eight, although he did log 14 minutes in each of the first three games of the year. To put it simply: Nadolny hardly played in the non-conference, and he played even less in conference. That was certainly a defensible decision by Coach Beard, as Nadolny was largely inefficient offensively (ORTG under 95, TO% higher than Assist %, and an 0-7 mark from three across the entire season), which is not something you want out of a rotational guard, especially given the inconsistent shooting that plagued Tech throughout the season. Having said all that: Nadolny displayed some extremely unique flashes, and even though the stats might not show it- Nadolny was pretty clearly a positive influence when he was on the court.
The biggest value that was immediately recognizable from Nadolny was his comfort level in PnR sets. The ability to understand defensive angles is something that some guards struggle with when adjusting to the college level, but from the get-go, Nadolny was able to figure out how to exploit POA defenders by displaying a mixture of patience (in almost having a calm ability to not recklessly force the issue) and aggression (on the drive, not the initial defender). This mixture culminated in defenses really struggling to contain Nadolny on drives, as the freshman converted 60% of his shots at the rim, while also drawing 34 foul shots, which came at a rate that was easily the best on the team (113.3 FTR- Free throw attempts/shot attempts). Granted, there were clear aspects to improve within Nadolny’s offensive game outside of the obvious shooting. For one- his decision making after getting separation from an initial defender was often very simplistic, which meant he missed open shooters frequently. Additionally, his ball-handling could get a little more refined, as he was a little flashy, leading to some loose ball situations, but holistically the foundations are there for Nadolny to be a solid lead guard.
Defensively, Clarence is an interesting case. His conference numbers (3.2 steal rate, 2.2 DBPM) are promising, and he flashed potential, but he also was quite prone to overplays. This was his demise in the Kansas game in Lawrence, as the Jayhawks began to take advantage of Nadolny’s eagerness to make a play, and with Devon Dotson were frequently able to exploit the “no-middle defense” by getting into the middle on drives. Still, the game in Lawrence was a synopsis of what Nadolny can provide on the defensive end. He came in when Tech was struggling in the first half, specifically with covering Devon Dotson. He was extremely effective on Dotson, generating a steal and allowing Tech to get back in the game. With Kevin McCullar out due to a Concussion, Nadolny became the best lockdown defender from a possession-to-possession basis, even if the mistakes were eventually exploited. Dotson was arguably the best PBH in the country last year, so containing him is very promising for Nadolny’s future.
With all that being said, the two biggest areas for improvement for Nadolny are strength and shooting. The first clearly developed in his first year on campus, as John Reily did his magic, and Nadolny clearly looked stronger than his pre-Tech days. I expect that to continue if he stays for another season. The second is the biggest reason why some consider him unplayable. Without a jump shot that is reliable, it is hard to envision an avenue for Nadolny to get playing time. The foundational elements are there, as he shot above 60% on free throws and the shot was not completely broken, but it’s clear that Nadolny needs to at least become a passable shooter to crack the rotation, as Shannon, Santos-Silva, and McCullar already compromise the spacing to a degree.
At this point a Mac McClung commitment would probably spell the end of Nadolny’s career at Tech, but I personally believe he is worth holding on to. Without Moretti, the team is littered with combo guards, and Nadolny provides a unique PBH option to experiment with. Also, his development and work ethic have been constantly praised by those within the program, and with the lack of successful “project” developments under Beard to this point, it would be worthwhile to keep Nadolny on. I cannot promise that his impact will be akin to that of a McClung or a Kuminga, but he has enough unique skills to warrant keeping him on the roster to see how he develops.