Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Wondered when we would see an Ed Nelson story

It was only a matter of time. Since this site makes you sign up, I will post the text here.

Nelson's Transfer A Family Matter
November 26, 2003
By DESMOND CONNER, Courant Staff Writer

To this day, Ed Nelson continues to talk to his former teammates at Georgia Tech. He has a good relationship with them. But Nelson can't say that about everyone in the program.

Nelson, who decided to transfer to UConn in May, will see his old teammates tonight when the top-ranked Huskies play Tech in a Preseason NIT semifinal at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Nelson, a 6-foot-8, 265-pound junior forward from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is not eligible to play this season because of NCAA transfer rules. He will have two years of eligibility beginning next season.

Under NCAA transfer guidelines, Nelson will have to pay his own expenses for the trip to New York. Still, he said it will be nice to see the players he spent two years with.

As for others from the school?

"One thing about leaving there," he said, "I just wish I could have left on better terms with the coaching staff. I have nothing but respect for all of them. They helped me develop my game the two years I was there. They got me to where my game is today, and I really appreciate that."

Nelson, the ACC rookie of the year two seasons ago, left because he wanted to be close to home. He was born in Brockton, Mass., and still has family in the area. With the exception of his mother, most family members live near Boston.

"It wasn't really a basketball standpoint why I transferred, and I think that's what the coaching staff there had a tough time understanding," he said.

The basketball standpoint Nelson is referring to was the emergence of Theodis Tarver. As a freshman last season, Tarver cut into Nelson's minutes and forward Chris Bosh was starring down low, on his way to the NBA after one season.

"Ed's decision to leave didn't have anything to do with any other player," said Marty Seidlin, a longtime family friend who runs a basketball camp in Fort Lauderdale. "He just wanted to be close to home and that was it."

Nelson started 28 of 31 games as a freshman - including all 16 ACC games. His starts were reduced to 12 of 31 his sophomore season, seven in the conference.

"I had a lot of fun the two years I was there, but it just didn't feel right for me. I felt like I should be closer to home," Nelson said.

Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt said Monday he was disappointed Nelson left, but that he heard rumblings in January the player was considering a transfer.

"I asked him on three or four occasions if he was thinking about transferring and each time he told me no," Hewitt said. "The day after the [spring] signing period, he walked into my office and told me he was going to transfer. It's his choice if he wanted to leave, but I just wish he would have told me in January so I could have recruited players."

Seidlin said Nelson did not decide he wanted to leave Georgia Tech until after the season.

"I mean, I think he was content there," Seidlin said. "But I think when the season was over he wanted to be around his family again."

When Nelson told Hewitt he wanted to be close to home, Hewitt limited Nelson's transfer to New England. To Nelson, those choices only included UConn, Boston College and UMass.

Nelson said he wanted to go to either BC or UConn, with UConn his preference. But the fact the transfer was limited made him believe Hewitt didn't trust the reason he was leaving.

"It seemed like the whole time, people were just thinking it was a basketball thing," Nelson said. "I had trust from my teammates, but I didn't feel like the coaching staff believed me."

Hewitt has moved on.

"I have no problems with Ed," Hewitt said. "He's a good kid and a hard worker. I think UConn is going to be happy that they have him."