March 13, 2002
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech freshman Ed Nelson, a 6-7 forward from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was named Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year by the Associated Press, the organization announced Wednesday.
Nelson, who led the Yellow Jackets in rebounding with 6.9 per game this season while also averaging 8.5 points, becomes the ninth Georgia Tech freshman to receive the honor and the first since Stephon Marbury in 1996. Nelson outdistanced NC State’s Julius Hodge for the award in voting by the Atlantic Coast Sports Writers Association, while Tech teammate B.J. Elder finished third.
“I’m very happy for Ed,” said Tech head coach Paul Hewitt. “His hard work and dedication was obvious to anybody who saw him play this season. He was a consistent performer from game one right to his 14-rebound performance in our final game against Wake Forest, because his effort was always consistent.”
Nelson started all but three games for the Yellow Jackets, who won eight of their final 11 games to finish 15-16 in Hewitt’s second season at Tech. Nelson steadily grew more comfortable as the season progressed, giving the Yellow Jackets inside scoring presence and solid defense, almost always against taller players.
“I give a lot of the credit to our coaches for helping develop my game and helping me gain the confidence to go out there every game and play well,” said Nelson. “I also give a lot of credit to Tony and to the rest of my teammates for having confidence in me. There are a lot of good freshmen in the ACC this year, including some of my teammates, so I’m very thankful.”
One of two Tech players to shoot 50 percent or better from the floor (50.0) this season, Nelson topped ACC freshmen in rebound average (6.9) in all games and ranked 10th overall, and also ranked fourth among the ACC’s rookies in scoring average (8.5). He also ranked second among freshmen in minutes played (25.5).
In ACC games only, Nelson averaged 10.4 points, second among the league’s freshmen, while averaging 6.6 rebounds and making 54.2 percent of his field goal attempts, both of which were high figures for ACC rookies.
From Tech’s Jan. 10 meeting with Duke on, Nelson averaged 10.6 points and 7.1 rebounds in Tech’s last 16 games. He was consistent on the glass, recording double-digit efforts against North Carolina (11), NC State (10) and Wake Forest (14 in the ACC Tournament). He also was vastly improved from the free throw line in the last half of the season, posting a 63.5 percent accuracy rate in the last 16 games after making just 46.5 percent in Tech’s first 15 games.
Tech’s previous eight ACC Rookies of the Year include Mark Price in 1983, Bruce Dalrymple in 1984, Duane Ferrell in 1985, Tom Hammonds in 1986, Dennis Scott in 1988, Kenny Anderson in 1990, Martice Moore in 1993 and Marbury. North Carolina has the next most Rookie honorees with five.