Nov. 26, 2008
PHILADELPHIA - Orlando Magic star Jameer Nelson, the greatest player in Saint Joseph's basketball history, has made a substantial commitment in support of the ongoing expansion and renovation of Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse. Nelson representative Steve Mountain and University officials confirmed the gift in conjunction with this week's game between the Magic and 76ers in Philadelphia.
Nelson, star of the 2003-04 Hawks' team that completed a perfect regular season and was ranked No. 1 in the country, joined Orlando as a first-round draft pick in June 2004. The fifth-year point guard has led the Magic to consecutive NBA playoff berths and won the John R. Wooden Award as the nation's top collegian while a Saint Joseph's senior.
"I wanted to be a leader and I wanted to be a role model," Nelson said. "Saint Joseph's made those dreams come true. I wouldn't trade my four years at St. Joe's for anything, and I hope this gift helps others have the same kind of experience."
The $36.4 million expansion and renovation project is scheduled for completion prior to the 2009-10 season. It includes the Michael J. Hagan '85 Arena and a 20,000 square-foot basketball center, where Nelson's gift will name the new men's basketball locker room. Overall, the University has raised $115M toward the $150M goal of its "With Faith and Strength to Dare" comprehensive campaign.
"Jameer Nelson's name is synonymous with Saint Joseph's University," said SJU president Timothy R. Lannon, S.J. "That Jameer has joined the major donors supporting this project comes as no surprise to anyone who knew him as a student-athlete. He is a natural leader, then and now."
Nelson finished his Saint Joseph's career as the school's all-time leader in points and assists. The Chester, Pa., native led the Hawks to three NCAA tournaments and an NIT berth. His No. 14 was retired immediately following the 2003-04 season, in which he captured every major Player of the Year award.
Added SJU coach Phil Martelli: "Jameer has always made the right moves on and off the court. He continues to be a great example of the values instilled by his parents. "I'm prouder of Jameer the man than Jameer the NBA player. Through this extraordinary gift, his name will live forever on Hawk Hill."