Wiser and Stronger
Roberto Nelson is as competitive as anyone you’ll ever meet. That’s why he worked harder than ever since the Beavers final game last season because he felt like he let the fans, and himself, down and he’s determined not to do it again.
“I just made sure that I’m not taking a day off or a second off,” said Nelson of his offseason regime. “I’m making sure that I stay on myself and holding myself accountable so all of those times when I’m getting tired and I wanted to take this play off and get some water that I’m working through that. So I’m going to be in better shape and stronger and just mentally prepared.”
By now, everyone knows his recruiting story and how he received 2,161 pieces of mail from 56 different programs. Everyone knows he didn’t get a single letter from Oregon State but made one official visit – to Oregon State – fell in love with head coach Craig Robinson, the town of Corvallis and all of the people and quickly made a commitment, making him one of the Beavers’ most prized recruits in the past two decades.
But what people don’t know is the stress he endured during the recruiting process. The stress of not being able to play his freshman season, because of NCAA clearinghouse rules, and being forced to sit out the first seven games of his redshirt freshman season. And the stress he faced of being tagged as the savior who would instantly make the Beavers great again.
Everyone saw a player who always had a smile on his face and a jump shot with unlimited range. But they forgot he hadn’t played competitively in almost two years and that the transition from high school to Division I college basketball isn’t as easy as people might think.
Nelson himself knows he wasn’t ready. He knew basketball as a game that he had always dominated and figured he could step on the court and do it again. It wasn’t that simple. But he has matured as a person and worked harder than ever to make sure he is ready this time around to be in better shape and more consistent as he enters his sophomore season.
“Not only was there a lot of pressure externally from people who had expectations of what he was going to be based on his ranking and all of that, there was a lot of internal pressure put on himself because he is a kid who wants to do well for the rest of his teammates,” Robinson said.
“When you take off a year-and-a-half of playing, it’s just hard to get on track and it took him awhile. Now that he got on track toward the end of the year and was able to spend the whole summer getting ready, he’s going to hit the ground running this time around as opposed to getting off to a slow start.”
It wasn’t like Nelson had a bad year. He scored an Oregon State freshman record 34 points against Arizona State, made 85 percent of his free throws and was the team’s fourth leading scorer. But the competitive Nelson wasn’t satisfied. And when he isn’t satisfied, he works hard to get better. And better. And better.
Tickets for the Championship Rounds of the TicketCity Legends Classic at IZOD Center in the New Jersey Meadowlands can be purchased by calling 800-745-3000 or online.