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Husky Men's Basketball

The latest news and analysis on Husky men's hoops.

April 11, 2007 at 11:21 PM

Nelson transferring

Washington is proving not to be immune to all the player movement that has happened elsewhere in the Pac-10 in recent days as we have confirmed tonight that Phil Nelson is transferring, likely headed to Portland State.
Here’s the story that will be appearing shortly on our website and in the paper:
Phil Nelson, a 6-7 forward who just completed his freshman season at Washington, has decided to transfer, Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar confirmed Wednesday night.
Nelson, a native of Keizer, Ore., is likely headed to Portland State, which is coached by former Husky assistant Ken Bone, Romar said.
“His familiarity with Coach Bone helped with that, and it’s close to his home,” Romar said. “Coach Bone does a lot of the same things we do, so it will be a comfortable place for him.”
Nelson played in 31 of UW’s 32 games this season, averaging 4.7 points, and started nine straight at mid-season.
But his playing time fell off at the end of the season and he did not score in seven of UW’s last 10 games, concluding with a scoreless two-minute effort in the finale against Washington State in the Pac-10 Tournament.
Romar, however, said playing time wasn’t necessarily the issue.
“He played,” Romar said. “Sometimes guys just want a change.”
Nelson’s departure means that half of Washington’s highly-acclaimed 2006 recruiting class, judged by Scout.com as the No. 3 class in the country, could already be gone.
Center Spencer Hawes announced last week that he is declaring for the NBA draft, though he hasn’t hired an agent and could return to school pending what he hears from scouts about his prospects. (Guard Adrian Oliver and swingman Quincy Pondexter were the other two in the class).
Nelson is only the second UW player signed by Romar to play at the school and then transfer, both this year. Freshman guard Harvey Perry left in December and is now at Idaho.
“As the talent level increases and you have talent in more numbers, sometimes these things begin to happen,” Romar said. “It is unfortunate, but it is not uncommon that it happens.”
Nelson was regarded as one of the top shooters in the country during his senior year at McNary High School and chose UW after also considering the likes of Gonzaga and Georgia Tech and was rated the No. 12 prospect in the Best in the West poll by the Long Beach Press-Telegram.
He struggled with his shot this season, however, making 24-82 three-pointers (29.3 percent). He scored a career-high 16 points in his first start at home against Arizona on Jan. 4 but hit double figures just twice the rest of the way.
Though Romar said playing time wasn’t the sole issue, Nelson might have been swayed by what looms as a logjam on UW’s perimeter.
UW lost only two players to graduation (and could lose Hawes), with everyone else expected back, including two guards who sat out this season —- Stanford transfer Tim Morris and the injured Joel Smith. Smith redshirted this season after suffering a stress fracture and now has two more years of eligibility.
The Huskies also signed 6-6 swingman Justin Holiday in November, and are expecting a letter-of-intent this week from Franklin point guard Venoy Overton. Both are expected to be members of the 2007-08 Huskies.
Nelson is still enrolled at UW and will finish the school year at Washington before leaving.
“Whenever you lose some of your family, it’s tough,” Romar said. “But we have a team of guys here and guys with experience that will be returning like Tim Morris and Joel Smith who will be there, so we have to move on.”
MORE COMMENT — This also could take care of any scholarship logjam the Huskies had for next season, though interestingly enough, the Huskies may make quick use of the sudden vacancy.
UW is reported to be getting a visit next weekend from guard Ty Abbott. Here’s a Scout.com report on Abbott’s recruitment.
Abbott is a 6-3 guard from Phoenix who was headed to New Mexico before getting out of his letter when Ritchie McKay was fired. If Abbott signs and Hawes comes back, the numbers can still work if Morris switches to walk-on status.
As for Nelson, as Romar said, these things happen, as has been in much evidence around the Pac-10 lately. Chamberlain Oguchi left Oregon last week, five guys left Oregon State earlier this week, and it was announced earlier today that Mac Hopson and Chris Matthews are leaving WSU.
Nelson had apparently been contemplating this since the end of the season. He evidently bade his official farewell to his teammates at the team banquet tonight, though he’s expected to remain on campus through the end of the quarter.
Nelson was not available for comment tonight.

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