After years as a college basketball assistant, Brett Nelson now has a Division I program to call his own.
Holy Cross announced Wednesday that Nelson, a former McDonald’s All-American at St. Albans High School and starter at the University of Florida, will be its new head men’s coach. Nelson replaces Bill Carmody, who retired earlier this year from the school in Worcester, Massachusetts.
“It is an absolute honor to be the next head coach at Holy Cross,” Nelson said in a university release. “My family and I are excited for this amazing opportunity.
“Holy Cross has a rich basketball history while being one of the best academic institutions in the entire country,” he added. “I’m eager to lead our student-athletes, and, together, we will work relentlessly to reach new heights as a program.”
Nelson has spent the last five years on the staff at Marquette, the last two as associate head coach under Steve Wojciechowski. In Nelson’s two years as associate head coach, the Golden Eagles went 45-24 overall. They went 24-10 last season, finished in second place in the Big East and earned an NCAA tournament berth. Two seasons ago, Marquette’s season finished in the NIT quarterfinals at 21-14 overall.
“Brett is as good a basketball mind and worker as I have been around in college basketball,” Wojciechowski said. “He has made Marquette University and our players better every day that he has been with us.”
Prior to his stint at Marquette, Nelson spent a season as associate head coach at Ball State along with assistant stops at Drake, Arkansas and Marshall. He was basketball operations director at Virginia Commonwealth and Colorado State.
He spent four seasons as a player for Billy Donovan’s Florida Gators. He was a three-year starter and part of four NCAA tournament teams, including the 2000 national runner-up. When he graduated, Nelson ranked first in school history in 3-pointers made (274) and attempted (689), second in steals (198) and 14th in points scored (1,417). He was a two-time All-SEC selection in addition to earning third-team All-America honors in 2001.
“I have never seen a harder worker and a more committed player and coach to the game of basketball,” Donovan, now coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder, said. “Brett has taken that same passion for the game and has developed into an outstanding basketball coach.”