What needs to be said first is that some people on this website have been hypercritical of both Ron and DeMarcus, some even going so far as to call Ron a "gravy trainer" or an "Earl Woods type father". That is absolutely not fair and not true. Ron Nelson is what he is: a father. This is not Lew Rickert wanting what's best for himself instead of his son, this is a case of "Best Basketball School in America Loves and Wants My Son"…Where's the problem and/or hypocrisy in that? As Arizona fans who read this board, it is understandable that you might be hurt or stunned or maybe even jealous of Marky's decision to play for the ESPN-friendly Blue Devils. But ask yourself this: if Duke offered your son a scholarship on the spot (without EVER seeing him play, I might add), wouldn't you at least look into it.
Ron Nelson AND DeMarcus Nelson (not to mention dozens of other recruits or prospective recruits) actually come and read the message board on this site. Ron read it yesterday after my story came out about his son and what he saw shocked him. People were insulting him and his son like they were backstabbing, two-faced low-lifes. Liars, even. Part of the backlash and criticism that athletes and their families receive just comes with the territory from being in the public eye, but what happened yesterday was a little bit overboard. At least, that is my opinion. I'll now let Ron Nelson tell the rest of the story.
"We went down to the Bob Gibbons tournament in Durham, North Carolina last weekend and while we were there Marky gave a verbal agreement to play basketball at Duke University. We went down a day early so we could make an unofficial visit to the school, we didn't even travel with the team. Marky loved the school, the coaches and especially the academic structure. For him, meeting coach K was like when you go off to the wash house and see someone in there and you just know it's your wife. It really was that magical. Coach K absolutely fell in love with Marky and he'd never even seen him play. It was scary!
We were in his office and those two were just chatting and chatting like they were best friends. One hour passed then two hours passed and then three hours passed and they were still talking and I was like ‘what is going on here?' Coach K told Marky, ‘I've never done this before but this is how strongly I feel…' And then he offered Marky a scholarship. He thought it over for a while and accepted it. That was it. We're both happy and elated with his choice to play for Duke. The commitment is absolutely solid. Coach K just blew him out of the water.
Another thing is that everything I told you and you printed was true. Lute Olson himself can tell you that too. We told him how much Marky loved Arizona and how he has always wanted to play for him at Arizona when we met him last year at the Pump camp. Duke was always high on Marky's list but the list went, one, Arizona; two, Duke and three, Cal. Marky absolutely adores Arizona and coach Olson. He had tunnel vision about going to Arizona, it was just a formality. We understood what Arizona's goals and directions were and that Marky was their number one priority in the class of 2004…it was just done. He was going to Arizona.
But then they started recruiting point guards from the class of 2003. And we understand that, it's just business. I mean, they already have (Will) Bynum and a great incoming class with Hassan (Adams), Chris Rodgers and that guy whose name I can't even pronounce from Illinois (Andre Iguodala). They have a whole stable full of guards, they always do. But we thought they recruited every two years so when we saw them going after 2003 point guards, we just told ourselves that it was business and we had to be open. Because before we weren't open at all, it was just ‘Marky's going to Arizona'.
When I told you that Arizona was being nonchalant in recruiting Marky what I meant was that they were out recruiting 2003 guards. It wasn't a power move to try to get Arizona to offer him a scholarship. I'll tell you right now, the same thing would have happened if he'd met with coach Olson last weekend. He would have committed to Arizona. It was just a matter of timing.
We both wish the University of Arizona well and we know that you never say never. There's still ten months between now and signing day, Marky and I both know that you never burn bridges and never be disrespectful to anyone. We were reading on the internet last night and it was like, ‘the day before you love Marky and now he's a hypocrite?' I just think all the rumors going around were completely false. But we have nothing negative to say about Arizona or Cal.
I'd bet my life on it that he would have committed to Arizona had he taken a visit there first. With the strenght of the 2004 class people are starting to go after guys as sophomores now. It's like if you know who you want, you had better go and get him. I'd bet that you'll be seeing a rash of sophomores committing this summer. Coach K had never offered a sophomore before but those two just hit if off so much in his office that day.
We're happy and elated about Duke. The commitment is completely solid and firm and I mean, really, who wouldn't want to go to Duke? We're just a normal family from Vallejo, California. We watch Duke play on TV all the time. We've had 40-50 calls per day since we got back so we're glad this is over."