- National Teams
Luke Nelson has said if his UC Irvine Anteaters do not make the NCAA Tournament this season he will consider it a failure.
“We plan to go to the NCAA tourney and if we do not get there then I will feel like we have failed,” the reigning 6’2″ Big West Freshman of the Year said in an interview with College Hoops Daily earlier this week.
“We had a good year defensively and our offensive chemistry should be even better this year: I just want to help us win more games.”
The GB U20 guard is on a UC Irvine squad that returns four of their top five scorers from last season, including his GB teammate Alex Young. The ‘Eaters were 23-12 overall and 13-3 in the conference last year, but failed to make the Big Dance, instead suffering a first round exit in the NIT to SMU.
Nelson led the ‘Eaters in scoring (11.8), three-point field goals (74) and steals (38) and was also selected to the All-Big West Second Team.
He has been picked by Sportando as one of the five young players to watch this season, has received plaudits from the like of ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla who said he’s “poised for a good year”, while CBS Sports has labelled UC Irvine as one of the mid-majors to watch in 2014-15.
My West Coast guru @FrankieBur liked my comparison of UC-Irvine soph G Luke Nelson to Steph Curry in style of play. Poised for good year.
— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) October 28, 2014
I didn’t think it was possible but UC Irvine point guard Luke Nelson has gotten even smoother in the offseason
— Abbey Mastracco (@AbbeyMastracco) October 27, 2014
With a non-conference schedule that features the likes of Arizona, Fresno State and Oregon, Nelson feels Arizona will present their biggest test.
“I would say Arizona because it is so early in our season. They are a great team, but we are all a year older and think we are as good as them if not better. We lost badly to Oregon last December and Fresno beat us at the buzzer in last year’s season opener, so there is some personal incentive for us in both of those games.”
UC Irvine has been picked to repeat as league champion in the Big West Conference preseason media poll released at the end of October, garnering 221 total points and 20 of the 26 first-place votes.
The Anteaters play host to Simon Fraser University of Canada in an exhibition game Nov. 8, before opening their regular season on Nov. 14 at home against Chapman.