Rick Nault remembers that first Monday in December of 2010 as if it were yesterday.
“Our guys are really getting after it, you know, first day of tryouts, coming off a state championship, and there’s Tyler Nelson, all 5-6, 130-something pounds of him, mixing it up with them,” said Nault, the seven-year Central Catholic boys hoop coach. “You could see right there he belonged. He knew it, too. And he went on to play earlier in the rotation than any freshman we’ve had.”
Bradford’s Nelson, our Eagle-Tribune boys hoop MVP as a junior, employed a similar strategy this week in determining his hoop future.
Armed with six offers, including one to play in the Atlantic-10 Conference at George Washington, Nelson came down to a final three of Dartmouth, Fairfield University and Binghamton.
“I’m looking for the opportunity to play right away and compete. Fitting in and playing immediately are very important to me. Fairfield University offers me the best chance to do that,” said Nelson, who yesterday made his verbal commitment to play on scholarship for coach Sydney Johnson’s Stags.
Fairfield, a Division 1 school in southern Connecticut, plays in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference with the likes of Siena, Iona, Monmouth and Manhattan among others.
“I really felt most comfortable there, and in the end that made all the difference,” said Nelson, who played his summer ball with Leo Papile’s BABC group. “When this whole recruitment phase started, the idea was that I would have liked the decision to be made before my senior year began, but I wasn’t planning on it. It just happened, and now I’m excited about that.”
While the process yielded trips around the nation to play on the AAU level with chances to compete with some of the best players in the country, it grew into a grind for Nelson.