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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Jameer Nelson Jr. verbally commits to St. Joe’s

Jameer Nelson Jr. pictured with the St. Joe’s men’s basketball team (Photo by courtesy of Sideline Photos LLC).

The name Jameer Nelson holds a lot of weight for some on Hawk Hill. For Jameer Nelson Jr., however, it means so much more. He has dealt with the pressures of being compared to his father his whole life.

On Sept. 28, he made his decision to continue the challenge of living up to arguably the most recognizable name at St. Joe’s.

The Haverford School senior guard committed to the St. Joe’s men’s basketball program as the first member of the 2020 recruiting class. He plans to take a post-graduate year of prep school to hone his game.

“I know what people are going to say, but I’ve been Jameer Nelson Junior my whole life,” Nelson Jr. said. “I’m just not going to let any of that faze me.”

Being the son of a Hawk legend and NBA All-Star is undoubtedly a lot to live up to. Nelson Sr.’s career is widely seen as one of the most accomplished athletic careers at St. Joe’s.

He was inducted into the Big 5 Hall of Fame in 2017 after a career in which he lead the Hawks to its only undefeated regular season, while also garnering a multitude of Player of the Year honors in their historical 2003-04 season. His program records for points, assists and steals will likely still be there for his son to chase.

Nelson Jr. was first offered a spot in the ’19 recruiting class by St. Joe’s men’s basketball Head Coach Phil Martelli in early July. He chose soon after, but made the choice to withhold his announcement until Sept. 28. It was a decision he made on his own and with his best self-interest in mind.

“My dad didn’t push me one way or another,” Nelson Jr. said. “He wanted what was best for me. At the end of the day St. Joe’s was right for me, it felt like family.”

Feeling like family may be a little bit of an understatement. Nelson Jr. was born while his father was in the midst of a storied career at St. Joe’s. Martelli was introduced to him soon after.

According to Nelson Jr., Martelli has known him since he was two weeks old. However, that will not have any impact on the way he is coached.

“Coach Martelli told me he was going to treat me as my own person, not Jameer Nelson’s son,” Nelson Jr. said. “That meant a lot to me and when they offered, I knew this was the place I wanted to go.”

Nelson Jr. excelled at both baseball and basketball throughout high school.

“For me, since I really just started focusing only on basketball two years ago, I really think I have a lot of room to grow and improve,” Nelson Jr. said.

He will have time to improve his game with a year of prep school. Last year, Nelson Jr. averaged 10.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists a game for a Haverford team that went 23-6 before his season was cut short with injury.

“He sees the floor very well, he plays great defense and his offensive game is improving,” said Haverford School Head Coach Bernie Rogers. “I really think the year of prep school will help him grow his confidence.”

Rogers has seen Nelson Jr. grow right in front of his eyes and thinks Nelson Jr. has what it takes to excel anywhere, despite the unique situation he is in at St. Joe’s and the pressures he may face.

“He’s handled everything that’s been thrown at him here,” Rogers said. “So I don’t see any reason why he won’t be able to at St. Joe’s. I’m excited to see what he’ll be able to do at the next level.”

Although Nelson Jr. wants to create a legacy of his own at St. Joe’s, he doesn’t downplay what it means to follow the same path his father did.

“I’ve been around the program my whole life, so I’m looking forward to finally being a part of it,” Nelson Jr. said.

Despite what the commitment means to him and the Nelson family, Nelson Jr. is not naive to the lofty expectations and outside noise that follows his name. The pressure he may face was not enough to drive him away from the opportunity to play at a program that feels like home.

“I just want to improve myself as a basketball player and contribute in any way I can,” Nelson Jr. said. “St. Joe’s gave me the best opportunity to do that. People will talk and they will say what they want to, but at the end of the day I just want to play basketball at the highest level I can.”

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