H: 6' 8"|
W: 235 lbs
(25 Years Old)
|RSCI: 98 ||
High School: Modesto Christian
Hometown: Modesto, CA
Sophomore forward Reeves Nelson will look to help UCLA rebound from an abysmal 2009-2010 season in which the Bruins finished with a 13-17 record and missed the postseason for the first time since coach Ben Howland's first season at UCLA in 2003-2004. After a solid freshman season as one of the team's lone bright spots, Nelson will need to continue to develop his game to help the Bruins improve and to get himself on the radar of NBA scouts.
From a physical standpoint, Nelson is far from the ideal NBA power forward prospect. He's a bit undersized at 6'8”, and his strong, bulky frame could use some tightening up. He does have quick feet and a decent first step for a guy his size, but he's primarily a below-the-rim player with limited elevation and explosiveness.
On the offensive end, Nelson combines a nice blend of power and a knack of how to finish around the rim, which contributed to him shooting an outstanding 64.7% from the field last season. His strong body and aggressive mentality help him to get position around the basket, and his scoring instincts enable him to finish, despite his lack of physical tools. He's comfortable playing with his back to the basket and can also face up and put the ball on the floor and finish with either hand going either direction. Nelson has to potential to be a force offensively around the basket at the college level, but this success may not translate well against longer, more athletic, defenders in the NBA.
Nelson's shooting is an area where he could use quite a bit of work. He shot a very poor 52% from the free throw line as a freshman, and he didn't show any flashes of being able to knock down a mid-range jump shot, with most all of his field goal attempts coming in the basket area. Developing a reliable jump shot from about fifteen feet would help him tremendously to become a more well-rounded offensive threat.
Defensively, Nelson displays good energy and intensity, as he's clearly an extremely tough player, and plays for an excellent defensive coach in Ben Howland, but he may lack the physical attributes needed to have great success defending at the NBA level. Tightening up his body may help some, but his lack of length and lateral quickness will certainly be an issue. Nelson's rebounding numbers were solid last season but not spectacular (9.9 rebounds per forty minutes pace adjusted). Really focusing on attacking the glass would give him another area to hang his hat on.
Overall, Nelson still has quite a bit of work to do before having his name come up in draft discussions. His toughness, aggressiveness and scoring instincts around the basket give him a base to build on, but he'll probably need to develop a mid-range jump shot and work on improving his body and athleticism to become a realistic NBA prospect. Fortunately, he still has three seasons remaining at UCLA to shore up his weaknesses and work on his game.