SYCAMORE – At 6-foot-8, Scott Nelson always had the size to be a college basketball player.
But this season, Nelson refined his post moves and built his confidence on his way to becoming the Daily Chronicle Player of the Year. By the time he helped lead Sycamore to its first regional championship in nine years, plenty of offers from smaller colleges were on the table.
After contemplating a few area schools, Nelson chose Judson University, an NAIA school in Elgin.
“It’s very close to all of my family, I was looking forward to them coming and seeing all of my games,” Nelson said. “They’re very good academically and athletically, and obviously money was a big part of it, too.”
The development of his physical skills wasn’t the only aspect that made Nelson a much more college-ready player this season. Spartans coach Andrew Stacy said that the mental side of the big man’s game changed, too.
“A lot of it was confidence,” Stacy said. “Knowing that when he had the ball this year, he was going to score or get fouled, where as last year he didn’t quite have that confidence to be able to do that. He really worked on his post moves and his post game. Another year of reps and another year of practice really helped him out there.”
Judson struggled last season with a 6-24 record and 5-19 mark in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference, but Nelson will have a chance to contribute right away.
The religious aspect of the Christian college was also attractive to him.
“[The coaches are] Christian men, and that was something I was looking forward to in a college to help me build there,” he said. “They’re just very good coaches there. Very good guys, very humble, hopefully they’ll help me play four years of basketball.”
Nelson’s trajectory was always on the rise during his last year at Sycamore. With the amount he improved last season, Stacy thinks there’s plenty more to look forward to in Nelson’s basketball career.
“A lot of college teams really liked his size, and he moves really well for a big man,” Stacy said. “I think they really liked the combination of all of that. I’ve always felt that his best basketball is ahead of him.”