FAYETTEVILLE – Former All-American guard Brett Nelson will join the Razorback men’s basketball staff as an assistant coach Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey announced on Thursday. Nelson comes to the Razorbacks after a brief stint at Central Florida.Nelson is beginning his sixth year on the bench in the college ranks after a standout playing career with the Florida Gators. The past three years, Nelson was an assistant coach at Marshall University before moving to the University of Central Florida in late March with former Marshall head coach Donnie Jones."I am very excited to have Brett join our staff," Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey said.
"Brett has a tremendous basketball IQ and will bring our student-athletes a first-hand perspective of the commitment and dedication that is required to win Southeastern Conference championships and compete nationally. In his tenures at Colorado State, Virginia Commonwealth and Marshall, Brett has been instrumental in both the recruiting and on-court successes of those programs. I have known Brett throughout his basketball career as a player and a coach. He is an exceptional person and will be an excellent addition to our coaching staff and our program."
While working with the Thundering Herd last season, Nelson helped Marshall to a 24-10 record and the school’s first postseason berth in 22 years. Marshall was 11-5 in Conference USA action which placed third in the league and is the best conference finish for the school in nearly a decade. The key to Marshall’s success last season was a solid 79.9 points per game average and a school record 2,717 points.
On the recruiting trails, Nelson was involved in landing several outstanding recruits including Hassan Whiteside who led the nation in blocks in 2009-10. Whiteside recorded 182 blocks, the fourth most for a single season in NCAA history, earning the phenom Conference USA Freshman and Defensive Player of the Year accolades as well as second-team Freshman All-America honors by Sporting News.Nelson was the Director of Operations for Colorado State in 2004-05 before joining the Virginia Commonwealth staff in the same position for the 2006-07 season.
As a player for the Gators, Nelson was a brilliant playmaker and scorer, leading Florida to four NCAA tournament appearances, a national championship game appearance, two SEC overall championships and three Eastern Division titles. He earned Associated Press All-America honorable mention honors in 2000-01 and was also a National Association of Basketball Coaches District VI First team, United States Basketball Writer’s Association District IV First team and All-SEC First-Team honoree. In 127 games, Nelson made 77 starts and averaged 11.0 points. He ranks second on Florida’s all-time three-pointers made list (274) and attempted (689) as well as in steals with 199. He is sixth on the UF career charts for assists per game (3.16) and set the school record for consecutive games with a three-point basket at 33.
Nelson played four years under Gators’ head coach Billy Donovan. In his coaching career, Nelson has been mentored by some of Donovan’s coaching protégés including current Alabama coach Anthony Grant, Jones at Marshall before joining Pelphrey’s staff at Arkansas.
The St. Albans, W. Va., native is married to the former Jamie Witt and graduated from Florida in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology.