Saint Joseph’s basketball legend Jameer Nelson spoke today about his latest and perhaps greatest accomplishment, as he will receive his bachelor’s degree from the University on May 19, 14 years after completing his career on the court with the Hawks. He was joined in the press conference in the Ramsay Basketball Center by University President Dr. Mark C. Reed and Director of Athletics Don DiJulia.
For Nelson, the completion of his degree was the fulfillment of a promise he made to his mother first and later to his wife and four children.
“Phil [Martelli], Don and everyone here on Hawk Hill made me a promise that they’re going to do everything for me in their power to help me succeed in life, on and off the court. I felt that just as important for myself and my family, as it would be for the University, was for me to complete my studies in sociology,” said Nelson, who just finished his 14th season in the NBA. “It [receiving the degree] means a lot. No matter what I’ve done in my career, on the court I’ve always modeled myself to be and have always wanted to be the best person I can be and looked upon as a role model. This is something I wanted to do for the city of Chester, the University, my family, and my closest friends.”
“The University couldn’t be happier to count Jameer among those in our Hall of Fame and now among our alumni. More than that, St. Joe’s is proud of Jameer because he models what we seek to instill in our students, a deep, lifelong appreciation for education, and that appreciation stuck with Jameer for all these years and will serve him well into his future,” said President Reed, now completing his third year at Saint Joseph’s.
DiJulia has seen many outstanding achievements by SJU student-athletes spanning his 50 years on Hawk Hill, and he is adding this to the list. “Certainly, we’re excited, mainly for him. When you make a commitment to something and you stick to it, and achieve it, how proud one becomes. So you can imagine how proud he is that he kept his commitment – first to his mom and then to his family. We were certainly proud of Jameer then and we’re still proud of him today.”
Hawk head coach Phil Martelli was unable to attend the press conference due to an NCAA Committee meeting, but stated, “Jameer has, once again, moved me to tears. His drive and determination to become a graduate of SJU is extraordinary, but pales in comparison to the why – for his children, for young people he supports through the Pete and Jameer Nelson Foundation, and as an example to the young guys in the NBA. May 19 will be his greatest accomplishment. I am blessed to have Jameer in my life, and I know that I join an army of Hawks, past and present, in standing to congratulate him on this milestone.”
Despite playing on the biggest basketball stage in the world, Nelson admits that he is a little nervous about Saturday. “I actually have that same feeling right now that I had when I was about to get drafted. A couple of days before the Draft, I had that anxious, nervous feeling of not knowing what to expect,” said the 2004 National Player of the Year. “I’m going to get up and just like the NBA Draft, you shake somebody’s hand, give them a hug, and walk down the stage. But this to me is a bigger accomplishment and the biggest accolade I can receive.”