NDSU’s Nelson declares for the NBA draft

All-Summit League player has the option of returning to school by May 31st

On Tuesday morning, North Dakota State men’s basketball player Grant Nelson officially declared for the 2023 NBA Draft. 

The 2023 1st Team All-Summit League performer announced his decision via Instagram and in the closing portion of his statement said, “I have dreamed of becoming a professional basketball player and I’m going to continue to chase that dream by entering by name into the 2023 NBA Draft while maintaining my college eligibility.” 

Nelson also thanked many people including his college coach Dave Richman, teammates, hometown, family, NDSU, and the city of Fargo saying in part, “Fargo will always be my second home. Thank you for making me feel like I belong.” 

Nelson, despite signing with an agent, could still withdraw from the draft pool and return to college with two years of eligibility remaining. Despite not mentioning anything regarding the transfer portal, Nelson could test those waters if he does withdraw and look to play at a bigger school where could also get big-time NIL money. 2023 Summit League Player of the Year Max Abmas from Oral Roberts, for example, has entered his name in the portal and has been receiving interest from Big 12 schools. 

The 6’11” junior from Devils Lake, N.D. is coming off an incredible season where he averaged 17.9 points and 9.3 rebounds over the course of 30 games. Nelson was also a starter in 2021-22 averaging 11.6 points and 4.9 rebounds and came off the bench as a true freshman in 2020-21 which earned him the Summit League 6th Man of the Year award. 

NDSU forward Grant Nelson, shown here against South Dakota State, has declared himself eligible for the 2023 NBA Draft. Photo Courtesy | NDSU Athletics

The 2020 North Dakota Mr. Basketball winner could become the fifth player from North Dakota State to be selected in the NBA Draft. The last one was Lance Berwald, who played for North Dakota State from 1982-84. The 6-foot-10 center was drafted in the fifth round of the 1984 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers, but like the other three Bison who were drafted, never played in an NBA game. 

Nelson could also become the seventh player born in North Dakota to play in the NBA. The two most recent are Tyler Johnson and Doug McDermott who were each born in Grand Forks. Johnson was undrafted in 2014 and played for the Heat, Suns, Nets, 76ers and most recently, the Spurs in 2022. McDermott, the 11th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft has played for the Bulls, Thunder, Knicks, Mavericks, and Pacers. He currently plays for the Spurs. 

If Nelson receives an invitation to the NBA Combine, he’ll get a good opportunity to improve his draft stock. The combine, where approximately 75 players will be seen by NBA GMs, coaches, and scouts will be from May 15-21 in Chicago, Ill. 

The NBA Draft is June 22 in Brooklyn, N.Y., where 60 players will be selected over the course of two rounds. Nelson is predicted to be a second-round pick by some but there is no guarantee of getting drafted at all. However, many scouts attended NDSU games this season which is an encouraging sign. 

The deadline for players to withdraw from the draft and maintain their college eligibility is May 31. Whether or not Nelson ends up getting drafted, returns to NDSU, or transfers, he has certainly left his mark on NDSU, and Bison fans can surely thank him for that and wish him the absolute best in his future.

Leave a Reply