It didn’t matter to Jamion Christian that he was recruiting Jameer Nelson Jr. for George Washington instead of Siena. The new men’s basketball coach at GW wanted the Haverford School senior guard on whichever team Christian was leading.

“I honestly believe that if Jamion Christian got a job anywhere in the country, he would have continued to recruit my son, which means a lot to me and my family but most importantly to Jameer," said Jameer Nelson Sr., the former NBA All-Star and the all-time leading scorer at St. Joseph’s University.

On Tuesday, the father and son announced that Nelson Jr. will play his college ball at George Washington, and the father was delighted that he will be able to watch his son play both in Washington and when the Colonials visit St. Joe’s for Atlantic Ten Conference games.

The younger Nelson withdrew his commitment to St. Joseph’s last month after longtime coach Phil Martelli was fired.

“This has nothing to do with St. Joe’s,” the elder Nelson, the 2001 national college freshman of the year and 2004 national college player of the year, said Wednesday. “I’m happy he’s playing [for George Washington] in the Atlantic Ten for sure because we’ll get to see him. It’s not as far as other schools that recruited him. It means a lot that we can see him in multiple places.”

Nelson drives against Camden guard Ethan Tarte in February. He averaged 14 points per game this season.
LOU RABITO / Staff
Nelson drives against Camden guard Ethan Tarte in February. He averaged 14 points per game this season.

The younger Nelson, who lives with his father in the Philadelphia suburbs, took it nearly as hard as Martelli when the popular coach was fired by St. Joe’s on March 19. He had committed to the Hawks last December more to be coached by Martelli, the same man who helped mold his famous father, than anything else.

So, as Martelli conducted a series of emotional interviews after his departure, the younger Nelson was unnerved. And he withdrew his commitment.

“He no longer feels the sense of familiarity [with St. Joe’s] that he once did,” the elder Nelson said last month of his son.

The younger Nelson, who deferred comment to his father on Wednesday, visited George Washington last Friday and elected then to join Christian. The head coach at Siena last season, Christian replaced Maurice Joseph at GW in March. He had recruited Nelson Jr. for Siena last year. He also was head coach at Mount St. Mary’s for six seasons, going twice to the NCAA Tournament.

“He was extremely comfortable with Jamion Christian and his staff,” the elder Nelson said of his son.

Nelson dunks against Camden. His skills are expected to translate well to the college game, said his high school coach.
LOU RABITO / Staff
Nelson dunks against Camden. His skills are expected to translate well to the college game, said his high school coach.

When he reopened his recruitment, Nelson had more interest from schools than he had before he committed to St. Joe’s, the elder Nelson said. Nelson had previously received offers from Hartford, La Salle, Rider, Siena, and St. Peter’s.

“The comfort level that he has with that coaching staff [at George Washington] is far greater than any other staff that recruited him.” the elder Nelson said. “His staff reached out more than anybody, even in this process.”

Nelson averaged 14 points per game at Haverford School last season and helped lead the Fords to an independent schools state title and a 30-0 record. Haverford coach Bernie Rogers said the 6-foot-1, 185-pound guard’s game will translate to the next level.

“He’s very explosive," Rogers said. "He’s got a lot of ability, and he’s very athletic. I think he’s going to keep getting better and better. I really think he’s going to take off, and his best days are ahead of him.”