CEDAR RAPIDS – Matt Nelson showed last night exactly why he holds several Division I college offers in basketball. But it sounds more and more like it’ll be college football that he’ll wind up playing.
“You only get a certain amount of time to play football before your body gets too abused,” the Cedar Rapids Xavier center said after his team’s 59-55 overtime win over Waterloo West. “You can always play in an old-man (basketball) league.”
Nelson, a 6-foot-8 junior, tore up his young-man opponent, recording a near triple-double of 19 points, 15 rebounds and eight blocked shots. That latter total actually might climb to double digits after game video is analyzed by Xavier’s coaching staff.
He was simply too big and too strong at times for West (7-8), which forced OT on a last-second corner 3-pointer by Malik Green barely over his outstretched hand. Xavier (8-6) scored the first six points in the extra period.
Nelson has D-I offers from schools like Rice, North Dakota State and South Dakota State.
“His upside is big,” said Xavier Coach Ryan Luehrsmann. “If he elects to go the basketball route, I think he’ll be a much better basketball player in college because that will be all he focuses on. All the coaches see that potential. But the thing about football, though, is it’s the reason he’s such a tough customer. So it’s been a positive for his (basketball) game.”
Nelson’s football profile as a tight end or pass-rushing defensive end has grown exponentially in the last month. He got in-school visits two weeks ago from Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz and Iowa State Coach Paul Rhoads and owns recruiting letters from Oregon, Alabama and Kansas State.
There are no scholarship offers on the table at the moment, but Nelson did attend Iowa’s “Junior Day” last weekend, spending a lot of time with new Hawkeyes tight end coach D.J. Hernandez. brother of New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez. He said Iowa told him “they were looking forward to seeing me at their summer camp.”
“It was a lot of fun,” he said. “I met with Coach Hernandez … He’s a cool guy, a lot of passion about it, and I like to see that in a coach. (Football) Coach (Duane) Schulte, Coach Luerhsmann, my AAU (basketball) coach Greg Stephen all have a lot of energy, and I definitely like that in a coach.”
Teammate Trey Sampson always was considered a sure thing for college basketball as well, but he said last night he will likely choose between football offers from Division II schools Winona State and Wayne State. Sampson was an all-state defensive back this past season for Xavier’s Class 4A runner-up team.
Saints quarterback (and guard) Reggie Schulte said he will likely choose between D-II Truman State and Division III powerhouse St. Thomas (Minn.). The Gazette/KCRG Offensive Player of the Year said Truman State offered him a scholarship during an in-home recruiting visit Wednesday night.
Here is Thursday night’s boxscore:
AT C.R. XAVIER
WATERLOO WEST (55): Jacob Meyer 2-2 0-0 4, Terrance Morgan 0-5 0-0 0, Alex Landers 2-5 0-0 4, Carderrius Smith 4-11 1-1 9, Malik Green 7-18 2-3 20, Tylar Beenken 0-2 0-0 0, Lance Dunn 1-3 2-2 5, Queshandis Seals 2-4 2-2 8, Lincoln Conrey 1-4 0-0 3, Xavier Hightower 1-2 0-1 2. Totals 20-56 7-9 55.
C.R. XAVIER (59): Corbin Woods 1-6 6-6 8, Robbie Thinnes 2-7 0-0 5, Matt Nelson 7-12 5-8 19, Adam McDermott 3-8 3-4 10, Trey Sampson 2-10 4-5 9, Calvin Winker 3-5 0-1 6, Reggie Schulte 1-1 0-0 2, Andrew Bisenius 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-49 18-24 59.
Halftime – Xavier 29, West 20. End of Regulation - West 50, Xavier 50. 3-point goals - West 8-22 (Morgan 0-1, Landers 0-2, Green 4-9, Dunn 1-2, Seals 2-4, Conrey 1-4), Xavier 3-9 (Thines 1-2, McDermott 1-2, Sampson 1-4, Winker 0-1). Rebounds – West 33 (Smith 8), Xavier 41 (Nelson 15). Total fouls - West 17, Xavier 12. Fouled out - None. Turnovers – West 12, Xavier 11.