Jameer Nelson Visits Charlotte For Weekend Workout


With less than three weeks to go before the 2004 NBA Draft, the Bobcats basketball operations staff continued their pre-draft evaluation sessions on Saturday with a visit from Jameer Nelson.

Nelson was the consensus National Player of the Year this season when he averaged 20.6 points, 5.3 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 2.9 steals for Saint Joseph's University. He led the Hawks to a perfect regular season record (27-0), to the school's first-ever number-one seed in the NCAA Tournament and a school-best 30-2 final record. Nelson received the inaugural Bob Cousy Point Guard Award and became the first-ever player to be the consensus player of the year and also win the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award for the top player 6-feet and under.

Nelson finished his career as Saint Joseph's career leader in points (2,094), assists (713) and steals (256). His number 14 jersey was retired on April 23. During the course of his career, Hawks teams compiled a 98-28 record and made four postseason appearances, including a run to the Elite 8 this season and to the Sweet 16 in 2001. He ranks third among Atlantic 10's all-time career leaders in assists, ninth in points and 10th in steals.

BobcatsBasketball.com visited with Bobcats General Manager & Head Coach Bernie Bickerstaff and Nelson after the workout:


(on Nelson)
This will probably be the most difficult decision in the draft -- not only from us, but collectively. Here’s a guy who makes us all look like hypocrites. We talk about loyalty, basketball IQ and all those things – this kid represents it. It will still be a very, very difficult decision for everybody. This will be the toughest decision in the draft as to where he goes and who takes him. I think there are probably going to be a lot of people that make mistakes by not taking him.

(on Nelson’s size)
We’re a little biased when it comes to size, but the work ethic, the loyalty in going back to St. Joe’s, all the things that we as coaches, general managers and the media shows on TV and writes about, he represents it. Then there’s just the question in terms of the size factor. But what I like about him is that here’s a guy that just wants to go play basketball. He doesn’t really care where he plays. He just wants the opportunity to play basketball. What happens with him is that you have to take your heart and your emotions out of it, because you find yourself really pulling for a young man with those qualities.

(on his on-court decision making)
What I was impressed with was that he knew where he was open. When you’re that size, you have to know where the openings are. Immediately he knew where he was open and I think that’s important. So, his reads were good.

(on comparisons to another player he has coached)
We drafted Dana Barros (in Seattle), he kind of reminds me of that with a strong body, but he’s a better basketball player. Dana was basically a shooter.

(on taking a high school player versus a college senior)
Our mantra has been to take the best basketball player. If the high school kid is the best basketball player, you’ve got to take him. This kid is a pretty good basketball player. I think when you start evaluating a basketball player, you also have to take the total composition into consideration. Now, you’ve got guys that are 6-6 or 6-7 and have the same kind of quickness, especially when you step up to our level.

(on whether he could be selected at number four)
Yes, because of what he brings to the table. I think it will prove out with him. Anybody that we take, I think is still two to three years down the road. One may be ahead of another because of the college situation, but with this guy’s mental toughness and the things that he’s been through, I just think he’s going to be a great basketball player. Again, we’ve just got to take our hearts and our emotions out of it and make a basketball decision.


(on the workout)
I think I did good. I could have shot the ball from the three-point line a little bit better, but some days you’re just not going to shoot the ball the way you can.

(on the Bobcats basketball operations staff)
I’m impressed with the coaching staff and everybody that is here. Everything is so intact and it’s only their first year. You can see that they are really organized and the thought process of everything is well thought out. I would love to play for coach Bernie Bickerstaff, (assistant coach) Sam (Mitchell) and the rest of those guys. They are just great guys and obviously I could learn from them. They could be like mentors for me.

(on is it frustrating having to prove yourself)
Not at all – all of my life I’ve been proving wrong, so I don’t see why it’s going to change now. It gives me a little chip to play harder and prove people wrong.

(on his decision to return to St. Joseph’s for a fourth year)
I wanted to get myself closer to my degree. I wanted to live out my college years because those are the best years of your life. If I had wanted to play in the NBA, I probably could have left last year and stayed in the draft, but that wasn’t the main focus for me.

(on whether his height should be a factor)
It is what it is -- I’m not going to grow any more. I’m 22 years old and God made me this way. He made me this way for a reason. I’ve got a nice body build and little quickness to me, so I can hide my height. That’s why you have five guys on the court, so they can help you on defense.

(on whether high school players are making a mistake going straight to NBA)
Knowing what I went through in four years of college, I can say they were fun for me, but not everybody is going to feel the same way I feel. It’s different for everybody. I guess that you have to say if the opportunity presents itself -- who wouldn’t go from high school to the NBA if they are going to take you in the first round. At that age, you are young and really don’t understand what is going on. I don’t think you really understand how to make the right decision. I’m not knocking any of those guys. All of them are great players and are in the situation for a reason, because they are great players. But at the same time, I think I have a little advantage because I’m a little more mature and have been through a lot more in four years of struggles and ups-and-downs in college. In high school, you don’t have anything to worry about – any bills – and I also have a son, so I have a lot of responsibilities. I think I’m prepared for what is about to happen to me.