As Luke Nelson’s college career comes to a close, the arduous task of looking for his first pro contract has begun.
With the NBA draft taking place on Thursday night, he is well aware he is a long shot to hear his name called, but his unwavering belief in himself – the same belief that has seen a kid from Worthing, England, go on to become the Big West Conference Player of the Year and one of the most successful players in UC Irvine history – will carry him through regardless of the result.
“I believe that I am good enough to play in the NBA, but I feel like I haven’t had the stage to prove that yet,” he told Hoopsfix on Wednesday night.
“I think there could be a small chance for me in the NBA draft, but I don’t believe that the draft is the only way for me to make it to the NBA, so I am not stressing over it. Of course, it would be amazing to get drafted as I have always dreamed of having my name called, but either way, I believe that if you’re good enough for the NBA, you’ll find your way there, whether that’s through the draft or other means, and I know I can make it there.”
Having done workouts with Orlando Magic, LA Clippers and most recently, LA Lakers, he says the feedback has been positive and is “very confident” he’s going to be playing NBA Summer League; having had contact with multiple teams.
“The process has actually been fun for the most part, I really enjoyed the 3 NBA workouts I had and I feel like I played well.
“The hardest thing for me, however, was not knowing if or when an opportunity would present itself so I didn’t have something specific to work for, but I stayed ready so that when I had a chance to show people what I can do, I could present myself properly! Just knowing that I have a chance to make the game I love my career is extremely exciting for me, because that’s all I’ve wanted for a long time.”
The former Worthing Thunder and Reading Rockets guard has signed with agent Adam Godes of Three Eye Sports, a decision he says he is very happy with, feeling “they were small enough that I would be important but big enough to make things happen for me.”
Godes has also been assessing opportunities in “top leagues across Europe” for Luke, but Nelson makes no doubt about his intention to try and make the league.
“I have always wanted to play at the highest possible level I can, and I believe that is the NBA so I am doing everything I can to get myself that opportunity,” he added. “The good thing though is that the European side of things starts to ramp up after the NBA stuff so I can pursue both without sacrificing one or the other.”
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) June 19, 2017
He was first named in the Senior squad in 2014 after his Freshman year at UC Irvine but the stars have never quite aligned for him to be able to get to camp. And now, the youngest ever player to be named NBL D1 Player of the Year (at 17, in 2013 with Reading), announced to Hoopsfix that he feels this summer is the right time.
“I have been in contact with the Senior team for a while now actually. I have had a few phone conversations with Coach (Joe) Prunty about my involvement with GB this summer, and I have told him that I really want to do it!
“It was difficult for me in past years to get involved because of the Under-20 tournaments as well as my commitment to UCI, but it feels like the right year for me to get involved.
“I am hoping to fly home after summer league and then go to the Senior team camp. I have made it clear to Coach Prunty that this summer is about establishing myself as a professional basketball player so if I had to sacrifice one, it would have to be the Senior team. But as of right now, I don’t see any reason that they would clash so I am really hoping for the chance to get my first cap!”
With other countries having already revealed their initial EuroBasket squads, an announcement from GB is expected in the near future, with the team heading to Greece and Poland for tournaments, along with single games against Israel and Greece; the latter of which will take place in London at the Copper Box on August 19.
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