Courtney Nelson: Back on The Banks

The High School stud by way of Bloomfield HS (NJ) took a circuitous route but eventually found his way back home. Courtney Nelson averaged 6.1 points and 2.0 assists per game while playing 21.6 minutes as a redshirt freshman under then-Richmond coach Jerry Wainwright. After sitting out last year as per NCAA regulations, Nelson's time to shine on The Banks has arrived.

Rutgers fans that are depressed about Quincy Douby's early departure to the NBA can take consolation in the fact that help is on the way. After having to sit out this past year after transferring from the A-10 Richmond Spiders, the upcoming season will mark the official Scarlet Knight debut of Courtney Nelson. Nick Mariniello, his former high school coach at Bloomfield Tech, where Nelson earned Associated Press 1st Team All-State honors as a senior and was named The Star Ledger 2004 Player of the Year, believes Rutgers fans have much to look forward to.

"He's an extremely skilled and talented player", said Mariniello. "He brings a lot of energy and excitement. He has good on-court leadership abilities and possesses a good feel for the game". And while it may certainly be too much to expect Nelson to replace Douby's Big East leading 25 points per game, Mariniello states that Nelson will certainly provide offense: "He's a very good perimeter shooter", he said. Mariniello also added that while Nelson may have been an OK defender while in high school, since that time his defensive skills have improved considerably. "He's a very good defender now", he said.

Still, Mariniello cautions that Nelson now has a transition to make after sitting out for a year. But he added that his former star has been working extremely hard, both in the classroom and in the weight room. He said that if what Nelson can do as an active player can approach what he did as a practice player this past year, RU will benefit greatly: "He did a fantastic job in practice as the scout team point guard". He also said that while Nelson can play both backcourt positions, he's probably more naturally suited to the point.

Indeed, if Nelson can have anywhere near the impact at Rutgers that he did in high school, life after Douby may not be so bad after all. Consider that Bloomfield Tech is a small group 1 school, and that prior to Nelson's arrival, no group 1 school had ever reached the New Jersey Tournament of Champion's semifinals. Led by Nelson (and also teammates DaShawn Dwight and Jason Wilson, who both went to Quinnipiac), Bloomfield Tech reached the semifinals in their junior years, and then to the finals the next year. "He put us on the map", said Mariniello. "He was the springboard for us".

Nelson decided to attend Richmond because of the good relationship he had developed with now-departed coaches Jerry Wainwright and Gary DeCesare, and also because of the opportunity to play right away. According to Mariniello, St John's and St. Joe's were two schools that Nelson also considered, and that Seton Hall was very interested in him. Another school that kept a close watch was Villanova and their then-assistant coach Fred Hill, Jr. It was then that the bond was forged between the two, which has led Nelson back home to RU.

Mariniello states that it is Hill's ability to be involved with talents like Courtney Nelson - whom he also adds is bright, engaging, articulate, very media savvy and "has a flair for the dramatic" on the court – and other Div. 1 prospects that bodes well for Rutgers. He also cited Hill's ability at "getting Quincy better" this past year as another obviously positive sign for the program. "Freddie will get it done", he said.


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