May 19, 2009

Jackson guard rewards Rebels' loyalty

Dundrecous Nelson's junior season at Murrah High School in Jackson, Miss., ended on Jan. 23.

His life changed that night as well.

In the aftermath of the horrible car accident that injured Nelson and killed his friend, LeChristopher Ulmer, Nelson had plenty of time to figure out who his real friends were and which of the coaches recruiting him were serious.

On Tuesday night, Nelson committed to Ole Miss, choosing the Rebels over Mississippi State, Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas State, UAB and Southern California.

"The reason I chose them is throughout they've been supportive through the accident," Nelson said. "I like how they bonded with me. I like how they get up down the floor. I love the coaches. I like everything about them."

Nelson, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound point guard, averaged 17.2 points, 3.4 assists and 3 steals before sustaining season-ending injuries in the car accident on Riverside Drive in Jackson. Jackson police said Nelson was driving close to 70 miles per hour when he lost control of the SUV, which flipped several times before hitting a tree. Police said Ulmer was riding in the backseat of the vehicle. Two other Murrah basketball players who were in the vehicle at the time of the crash were treated for injuries at UMC and released.

Nelson suffered brain damage and a skull fracture, among other injuries. The emotional toll was worse.

"It hurt real bad," Nelson said. "Everything I did, I did with him. Going down the road and knowing he's not with me gets to me."

In the aftermath of the accident, Nelson said he talked to Ole Miss coaches often.

"They were encouraging me," Nelson said. "They were just trying to check on me and see how I was doing as a person, all the recruiting and all of that aside. They wanted to make sure that I was OK, even if I wasn't playing ball again. Other schools, after that, I really didn't hear from them. Ole Miss kind of stuck with me."

On the floor, Nelson has drawn comparisons to Ole Miss point guard Chris Warren. Nelson, who is on pace to easily meet NCAA initial-eligibility requirements and be on the floor in Oxford in 2010-11, said he hopes to learn from Warren for a season and then take over. He expects to arrive to a program that is making a strong move in the Southeastern Conference and nationally.

"They'll be over the hump this season," Nelson said. "They should make it. We had bad injuries. That held us back. This year, they're going to make a huge run."

Nelson's AAU coach, Jackson Panthers head man Lemond Roy, said Nelson has "great upside. I've been coaching AAU basketball for 18 years. He's the most athletic player I've coached as far as ability to change directions. We've played in hundreds of games and nobody has been able to stay in front of him. He basically can get to the basket anytime he wants to. Ole Miss has just locked into a great basketball player."

Further, Roy said he expects Nelson's commitment to Ole Miss to have positive ramifications for the Rebels throughout the state.

"It will help," Roy said. "We're very excited Dondrecous is the first Mississippi kid (Ole Miss coach) Andy (Kennedy) will get. We hope it shows Mississippi kids there's nothing wrong to stay in-state."

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