Be it good or bad, Gaskins was active. He hustled. Even more, he never shied away from what he deemed an open shot, no matter if others thought differently.
Nelson's playing style oftentimes mimics Gaskins; well, at least the younger Gaskins. Because now, as a junior, Gaskins is more controlled. Nelson, meanwhile, is an always-on-the-go, non-stop infusion of energy.
"I've got a lot of confidence in his physical ability," Kennedy said of Nelson. "For him, it's just a matter of understanding the consistency with which you have to play to be successful at this level.
"I think he's getting it more and more every day."
Nelson's numbers don't jump off the page. He currently averages seven points per game and 1.2 rebounds.
But the freshman from Jackson, Miss., has come on of late. His role has continued to grow with each game.
"His minutes have gone up," Kennedy said. "We're becoming more trustworthy in his role."
Nelson has averaged 16 minutes in Ole Miss' last four conference games -- a stark contrast from earlier in the season. For the most part, Nelson was relegated to garbage time and mop-up duty.
In the non-league schedule, Nelson logged at least 20 minutes just three times.
He played 25 and 20 minutes against Alcorn State and Southeastern Louisiana respectively. However, his playing time dwindled at SMU and at Florida.
Nelson failed to reach double-digit minutes in either game.
"I think I've got my confidence up," Nelson said. "I'm playing ball."
Nelson has emerged as one of Kennedy's top options off the bench in Southeastern Conference play. He saw his most extensive action in a loss to Georgia, when he scored nine points in 20 minutes. At Vanderbilt, he tied a career-high in points with 17 in only 14 minutes played.
A week ago today, Ole Miss (13-7, 1-4 SEC) toppled LSU for its first conference win of the season. Nelson had only six points, but was 3 of 6 from the field in 17 minutes. The Rebels welcome Tennessee (13-7, 3-2 SEC) to Tad Smith Coliseum today at 3 p.m.
"He's making better decisions with the ball," Kennedy said. "That comes with game experience. You can't simulate the experience you get game in and game out. And he's had some success. I think he's confident.
"When he goes in, he knows he can be successful. With him, it's just the little things -- him locking in tune mentally day in and day out. His physical talent is certainly going to help him be a tremendous player for us."
Nelson said he has watched a lot of film to help accelerate his development.
That persistent film study is what has allowed the 5-foot-11, 194-pound Nelson to play more relaxed and, in turn, gain Kennedy's trust.
"It means a lot to have Coach K's trust, because he'll let you know if he trusts you or not," Nelson said. "So to at least have a little trust with him, it means a lot. Y'all see for yourselves in the stands how he carries on. But he's one of the coolest coaches, I think. He's a straightforward coach."
Nelson said he thrives on the no-nonsense approach of Kennedy.
"I like that. I don't always like to hear the good that you're doing. I like to hear more so the bad," he said. "He'll tell you. I think I need to work on my whole game. You're never satisfied."
Kennedy isn't shy in showering praise on Nelson, arguably his top signee in the recruiting class of 2010. But he also isn't afraid to inject some tough love. Kennedy sees promise in Nelson. He sees potential. So Kennedy will continue to push him.
"His potential is he can give a lot more. He can be a huge key for us finishing the season the way we hope," Kennedy said.