School: St. Joseph’s
Cohen’s Analysis: Nelson was the darling of college basketball during his four years at St. Joseph’s. He was first noticed on a national scope in his freshman season when he tallied 13 points, eight assists and seven rebounds in his team’s victory over Georgia Tech in the First Round of the 2001 tournament. The Hawks’ run ended in the subsequent round against Stanford – the No. 1 seed in the West region – but Nelson dazzled again with a near triple-double – 14 points, nine assists and nine rebounds.
Nelson returned to March Madness his junior season and delivered one of the best performances of his basketball career when he erupted for 32 points and nine rebounds in a First Round overtime loss against Auburn.
Disenchanted by his school’s early exit but motivated to bounce back, Nelson returned to St. Joe’s for his senior season and helped the Hawks finish with a flawless regular season record (30-0). And after impressive victories over Liberty, Texas Tech and Wake Forest, led by Chris Paul, the Hawks competed in one of the greatest college basketball games in NCAA history.
St. Joe’s needed just one stop in the closing seconds to advance to its second Final Four in school history, but John Lucas hit a cold-blooded 3-pointer with 6.9 seconds left to lift Oklahoma State to an unforgettable win. Nelson’s last-second shot at the buzzer fell short.
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