Sa’eed Nelson is beginning the next phase of his basketball life.
The former St. Augustine Prep and American University standout will play for MLP Academics Heidelberg in the German Pro-A League.
“It’s really a dream come true,” the Pleasantville resident said last week. “I’ve been thinking about playing professionally ever since I started playing basketball when I was 9. Now, I’m here.”
Nelson finished his American career last spring as one of the most accomplished players in school history.
The 6-foot-2 point guard was the Patriot League Player of the Year last season and a two-time first-team All-Patriot League selection. Nelson is the school’s all-time leading scorer with 2,116 points. He wrapped up his career with 552 rebounds, 521 assists, 277 steals and 36 blocks.
Nelson was also one of the best players in St. Augustine history. A two-time Press Boys Basketball Player of the Year, Nelson led the Hermits to the 2016 state Non-Public A title. He finished his career with 1,625 points, third best in Hermits history.
Nelson signed with Roc Nation Sports after his college season. He wanted to pursue an NBA career, but the COVID-19 pandemic prevented that.
“I was pushing to get into workouts to show I could play with those (NBA) guys,” Nelson said in a phone call from Germany last weekend. “But that all kept getting pushed back, so we decided to reach out to overseas.”
The Pro-A is the second-best league in Germany and one of the better European leagues.
“This is one of the leagues that show the most interest in me,” Nelson said. “I was excited to get an opportunity to play, especially not knowing what’s going on with America right now. This was the perfect opportunity. Scouts will be watching. I’ll definitely be getting some looks.”
The season opener is Oct. 16. Nelson scored 18 points and sank 10 of 10 free throws in a preseason game this week. He said he’s getting plenty of advice from the team’s veterans.
“It’s a different style of play,” Nelson said. “It’s not as fast-paced as over in America. I think I’ve been adjusting well.”
With a population of more than 160,000, Heidelberg is a college town located in southwestern Germany. Heidelberg University is one of Europe’s top schools.
Before heading to Germany, Nelson spoke with several South Jersey players who had played overseas, most notably 1994 Middle Township graduate LaMarr Greer.
“It’s been an adjustment being away from the family,” Nelson said. “This is not like a vacation. This is my actual job. I feel like I have to get used to that. But I feel like it’s been good so far. To say basketball is my job is amazing to me.”
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