Home » Columns » Currently Reading:

Jameer Nelson

December 14, 2003 Columns No Comments

Nelson Returns and Will Finish On a High Note

by Phil Kasiecki

PHILADELPHIA, Penn. – Phil Martelli can’t say enough good things about Jameer Nelson. The St. Joseph’s media guide has no shortage of ringing endorsements by the head coach of his All-American point guard, and game after game he reiterates it in press conferences.

He’s not alone, either – even opposing coaches like Pennsylvania’s Fran Dunphy have high praise.

“He imposes his will on the game,” said Dunphy on Saturday after the Hawks beat Pennsylvania in the Big 5 Classic. “He just has such great knowledge of the game: his poise, his escapability is ridiculous – he takes it to the basket, there’s five guys flying at him and he sees everywhere.

“He’s terrific. I’m not an NBA guy, but I can’t imagine he can’t make a huge difference on somebody’s team. He’s a good guy, too – I just appreciate playing against him. He’s just a real good basketball player.”

Indeed, Nelson is a real good basketball player – one who changes games. He is also one who’s bound for the NBA, though he could have been there now if he chose.

Scouting Report:
Jameer Nelson
A quick and strong floor leader, Nelson has amazing body control and court knowledge. While many players get in trouble when they leave their feet in penetration to pass the ball, he rarely does, often making passes no one watching the game might think of. While that is how he changes games, it is also where he makes most of his mistakes. He uses his strength and great bounce to go in and get rebounds even at 5’11”, and is generally good on the ball defensively. Offensively, he doesn’t shoot the ball exceedingly well and is more of a scorer than a shooter. His decisions have continued to improve each season, and he plays with great confidence. Scouts have cited concerns about his size, but he more than makes up for that with his leaping ability and knowledge of the game. It’s early to try and project where he will be drafted in 2004, but it’s a fairly safe bet that he will go in the first round and can certainly be a lottery pick when it’s all said and done. – Phil Kasiecki

Nelson declared for the NBA Draft last spring. He knew he was good enough to play in the NBA, but he also knew that didn’t translate into being a first-round draft pick, which was the only scenario under which he would leave. So he didn’t sign with an agent, and along with Martelli – whom he talked to for hours every day during the process, and helped dealing with agents – tried to get a sense of where he would be drafted, worked out and went to the NBA’s Pre-Draft Camp at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.

Nelson played very well at the camp, running an offense as flawlessly as he usually does with the Hawks. But scouts had some concerns about his height – 5’11”. Nelson never got the guarantee from anyone that they would take him with their first round pick if still available, so on June 19, he returned to school.

It was the biggest day for St. Joseph’s basketball in the 2003-04 season, 4 months before practice even began. For Nelson, preparation began right then and there for this season.

“The first day I knew I was going to come back, I played five-on-five with my team,” Nelson said.

“Right now I am a college player. I have to focus on what I have to do here with my teammates and just try to accomplish things with my team.”

So far, the preparation and focus is paying off. St. Joseph’s is still one of the best-kept secrets in college basketball, as they don’t come up in discussions of the elite teams in the country, but the Hawks are a force to be reckoned with. Nelson leads a tremendous perimeter unit that has classmate Tyrone Barley (a defensive specialist who has suddenly become a three-point marksman as well), budding star Delonte West, and shooters Pat Carroll and Chet Stachitas. The Hawks aren’t deep up front, especially with sophomore Dave Mallon out until January, but Dwayne Jones and Jon Bryant hold down the fort.

The Hawks started off the season with a big win over Gonzaga, another nationally ranked team at Madison Square Garden. Nelson led the way, as he so often does, with 20 points and 10 assists. After the game, Gonzaga head coach Mark Few told him, “You’re what college basketball is all about”, a comment that any observer of college basketball surely echoes upon watching him.

“It made me feel special, because that doesn’t mean, me as a player, it means me as a person,” he said of Few’s words.

Martelli’s compliments about his point guard have no limit. It’s often said that a point guard has to be an extension of the coach on the floor, but he sees Nelson as being even more than that.

“For being so young, he has such great recognition of what needs to be done,” said Martelli.

“He could coach this team. He could flat-out coach this team.”

Amidst all the praise, Nelson likes to think of himself as a regular, fun-loving young man. He will remind you that even on the hardwood, he is still human – even if that may seem hard to believe at times. The sociology major, who isn’t sure what he wants to do after he’s done playing basketball, is humble, gregarious and enjoying the college experience. That, along with his relationship with teammates and Martelli made it easy for him to come back for his senior year. He loves his school as well, even if it’s not thought of in the same light as schools like Duke, Kentucky or North Carolina.

“The atmosphere is great at a St. Joe’s game,” Nelson said. “I think we have the best fans in the country. I wouldn’t want to play in front of any other fans in the country.”

The native of Chester, Pennsylvania also likes the Big 5 and is fond of its tradition, as well as the atmosphere of its games and especially those at the Palestra, where the Hawks also play several home games each year.

“Everybody was just having fun,” Nelson says of the crowds at Big 5 games. “Our crowd was doing our chants, their crowd was doing their chants. It’s just fun.”

He knows he is good enough to play in the NBA, and he will be there soon enough. He knows he made the right decision to go through the process as he did, and that the eventual outcome will bear that out.

“I went through the process like a man, and made a man’s decision,” Nelson said. “A lot of players don’t do that, they just see money signs and they understand they can be rich one day.

“I understand that I can be rich one day, too, but at the same time, I had to do what’s best for me and my future. And I think that coming back was best for my future, as far as school and athletics.”

What is best for Nelson is also what is best for his young son, as he is an eager parent. He looks forward to what is ahead in his young son’s future, and now feels more driven in everything he does because of him.

“I have to be a role model,” said Nelson. “I have to watch what I do, watch what I say, and just be more cautious of what’s going on in my life.”

If he approaches life like he approached the NBA, nothing but success should be in Nelson’s future, and it couldn’t happen to a better young man.


Comment on this Article:

Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Coaching Changes

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – February 22, 2018

February 22, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we start with floor issues in the Big East and an important NCAA ruling that was upheld. Then we go on to the Big 12, where Wednesday night had a new twist, as well as the ACC and how it shapes up along with no team going undefeated in conference play this year.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – February 7, 2018

February 7, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about a big sweep in the SEC, look back on the wild Saturday, then talk about a Big Ten showdown and some undefeated teams in conference play.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 31, 2018

January 31, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about a lot of what has happened in the ACC and SEC, including the Big 12/SEC Challenge, whether or not Kentucky is turning a corner, as well as the story at Michigan State.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 26, 2018

January 26, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about a wild night in the Big Ten, adversity and a quiet leader in the ACC, what to make of Kentucky and look ahead to the Big 12/SEC Challenge.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 18, 2018

January 18, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about big road wins for a few teams, including a couple of bluebloods that looked destined for losses, as well as an unsettled Big Ten beyond one team, an SEC where you shouldn’t pay attention to bracketologists, and the problems with a proposed earlier start to the college basketball season.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

Lincoln captures Hamilton Park title

August 15, 2017 by

For the first time, a public school won the Hamilton Park Summer League, and they were led by a big effort from a junior point guard in the title game.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Boston Shootout

June 12, 2017 by

Some news and notes coming from the second and final day of action at the 2017 Boston Shootout, where the host program provided plenty of talent, but so did a program that produced a team that beat them.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Northeast Hoops Festival

April 11, 2017 by

The Northeast Hoops Festival helped bring in the new spring travel season in New England, and we have notes from some of Saturday’s action.

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.