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Laguna Beach High basketball standout Nolan Naess commits to Army

Nolan Naess, a Laguna Beach High School senior, has committed to the Army men's basketball program.
Nolan Naess, a Laguna Beach High School senior, has committed to the Army men’s basketball program.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

After all school athletic competitions had ended for the evening, on more than one occasion, Laguna Beach High School boys’ basketball standout Nolan Naess would stick around.

He could be seen working outside of team activities with none other than Breakers coach Bret Fleming.

The extra work paid dividends last week, as Naess committed to Army.

Naess, a 6-foot-8 senior forward, said he was also interested in UC San Diego, Navy and Idaho State.

“They have great leadership,” Naess said of his commitment to Army. “When you graduate from Army West Point, you’re going in as an officer into the military, and you just learn how to be a leader.”

A starter for the Breakers since his freshman year, Naess has been taking lessons from Fleming since the summer prior to entering high school.

“Each time I went in with [Fleming], my goal was just to get a little bit better each time,” Naess said. “Coach Fleming looked at me recently, and he was like, ‘Do you realize how much better you’ve gotten over this time?’

“I didn’t really realize it at the time, but I looked back, and I saw just how much better I’ve gotten, and that was really the goal with those shooting sessions. I really worked at the stuff that I wasn’t very good at, like shooting off the dribble and shooting in general.”

As a junior, Naess excelled to the tune of 19.3 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. He earned Wave League MVP honors in leading Laguna Beach, which finished last season 21-8 overall and 6-0 in league play.

Naess was named to the Daily Pilot Boys’ Basketball Dream Team after collecting accolades throughout the season, including all-tournament team selections in the Godinez Grizzly Invitational, the Gary Raya SoCal Elite Classic and the Torrey Pines Classic.

Nolan Naess averaged 19.3 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game for Laguna Beach last season.
Nolan Naess averaged 19.3 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game for Laguna Beach last season.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

After seeing his sister, Piper, go through the recruiting process en route to signing with Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for beach volleyball, Naess had an idea of what to expect. The impact of the coronavirus pandemic resulted in much of his communication with coaches happening over FaceTime and Zoom.

Naess, who enjoys mathematics, said that he is considering studying cyber security in college.

Rob Wigod reports during Thursday’s virtual CIF Southern Section meeting that high school sports would start in mid-December, as scheduled.

Looking ahead to what could be a modified senior season should health and safety guidelines allow, Naess is hoping to have one more run with teammates Willie and Arthur Rounaghi and Chase Hall, with whom he grew up playing the game.

He also has a younger brother, Griffin, a sophomore who plays basketball. It could provide some memorable moments if they see the floor together.

“I would love to play with Griffin because we’ve been talking about that since we were little, how we were going to be throwing lobs to each other in high school,” Naess said. “I can dunk, but I don’t know about getting lobs.”

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