Nelson clears one hurdle with NCAA
By Kevin Hampton
Roberto Nelson was on the court with the Oregon State men's basketball team for the first time Friday morning.
Nelson, a freshman guard from Santa Barbara, Calif., received partial clearance from the NCAA and is now able to practice with the Beavers, receive financial aid and be with the team for home games.
Nelson can't play in games or travel with the team. His status for the season has not been determined by the NCAA.
"He can do everything as if he's a redshirt," coach Craig Robinson said. "He can come to home games and be with the guys, go in the locker room, be a part of the team. Before, he was like a student on an unofficial visit. He couldn't eat with the guys, he couldn't do anything with the guys. Now he can take advantage of the dormitory and the meal plan and all that kind of stuff."
Nelson was a highly regarded high school player and was also recruited by Florida, Nebraska, Ohio State, Washington, California and USC, among others.
Nelson looked at home on the court with the Beavers. He looks polished as an offensive player, driving past defenders for a layin during a half-court situational drill and handling the ball at the top of the key without a hint of hesitation.
"So it's nice to be able to have him feel like he's a part of the team," Robinson said. "He practiced (Friday) for the first time and it was evident that he can help us, so it's a good feeling but it's even better for Roberto."
The NCAA was looking at Nelson's high school courses to determine his eligibility. Nelson had taken some on-line courses.
"What probably happened is they went through everything," Robinson said. "They went through his high school courses, they went through all of his on-line course and they probably looked at every single one and all the work he did in it to make sure that it was kosher and came down to the decision that what he needs now is a higher score. Then once he gets a certain score, he'll be able to play."
The process has taken a long time to sort out, but Robinson said he's happy with the way it's been handled.
"What I'm happy with is the NCAA clearinghouse took the time to really review the case and that our compliance office took the time to really pursue all the avenues for this kid to play," Robinson said. "He's in a very special situation and wanted to be here and is willing to do whatever he needs to do to become qualified."
Robinson said it's good for Nelson to be able to feel like he's a part of the team.
Robinson said Nelson has handled his situation in the right way.
"Now for him to be able to do what he's been able to get done on his own, getting decent grades to stay eligible, he's done that, he's been a good citizen of the campus and he's not pouted," Robinson said. "So it's just nice when good things happen for the right reasons."