South Shore Lady Vikings guard Alexia “Lex” Nelson has committed to the Division-I University of Maryland, Baltimore County, her dad, Wiford, announced yesterday.
Nelson said she had interests and offers from other D-I programs such as Stony Brook, Hofstra, and St. Bonaventure. But she went with the Retrievers in the end because she likes the campus, the team, and grew found of their coach, Johnetta Hayes.
Plus, Nelson, sister of Brooklyn Collaigtes’ Sion, said UMBC pursued her the hardest and most serious, coming to watch her play at the Rose Classic Tournament and in a playoff tilt this year.
“When I went to (visit) the school, I liked the gym, I liked the program, and I liked the way coach (Hayes) coached,” Nelson, 17, said. “UMBC showed the most interest in me, so that was a good sign.”
Additionally, Nelson noted that Hayes has a history of winning, posting a 115-73 record over her six seasons at Texas Southern University’s helm, though the Retrievers went 10-18 in the 2019-20 campaign.
The Canarsie native said she has become accustomed to triumphs at South Shore, capturing a PSAL championship with the squad last year, and registered a 16-2 record, with two postseason victories before the Public School Athletic League (PSAL) canceled the season due to COVID-19.
Nelson, who spent two years at Nazareth High School in East Flatbush, also enjoyed success with AAU clubs New Jersey Sparks and Gachous.
“I’m coming from a winning situation,” said Nelson, who averaged 7.4 ppg and two assists ppg with the Lady Vikings in 2019-20. “So I like to keep that going.”
Nelson — who attends SSHS’s Victory Collegiate, where she pulls down good grades while knocking down jumpers — attributes part of her improved play to Lady Vikings renowned head coach Anwar Gladden, who is known for getting the best out of his players..
“Being coached by Anwar is not easy, so I know what to expect (at the college level),” Nelson said of hard work on and off the hardwood as well as performing well expectations. “He mentally pushes you and is demanding. At times when you don’t see yourself doing it (succeeding), he does.”
A once painfully shy young lady, Wilford Nelson said his daughter’s improved play and increased college recruitment was due to her becoming more of a verbal leader at South Shore, not to mention her solid work ethic, molding her into a Division-I player.
“The difference between a D-I player and everyone else is being vocal (on the court),” said Wiford Nelson – a successful real estate person at Corcoran. “And she has come out of her shell a little more, but she can come out even more.” However, “she has come a long way.”
All the way to the D-I level, in fact.
— Jerry Del Priore