Don Nelson Hawkeye 1962

1962 - Iowa Hawkeyes Don Nelson 1962

As a senior in 1961-1962, Nelson averaged 23.8 points and 11.9 rebounds as the Hawkeyes finished 13-11.

In Nelson’s years at Iowa, the Big Ten conference was full of future NBA players. Among others, Ohio State had future Hall of Fame players in John Havlicek and Jerry Lucas, along with Larry Siegfried. Indiana had a future Hall of Fame inductee in Walt Bellamy, while Purdue had future NBA All-Star Terry Dischinger.

“It was a terrific training ground for the pros,” Nelson said. “So many of them became stars.”

“It’s an overused phrase, but the tougher the game got, the tougher Don played,” Scheuerman said of Nelson. “He always had a lot of savvy. Don did some things you just can’t coach. Some players have the body but aren’t mentally tough. Others are mentally tough but don’t have a body. Don had both.”

“I felt more responsibility and my teammates expected me to carry a bigger portion of the load,” Nelson said of his Iowa career. “I still look back at that time as one of the highlights of my whole career. Sharm did a terrific job coaching and we played some terrific basketball.”

“What I remember most about it is playing for Sharm and our relationship over 50 years and how close we were and how much I loved that man,” Nelson reflected in 2012 of Scheuerman, who died in 2010. “A role model certainly, but I could never duplicate that man’s life because he was so special. I certainly tried. I’m certainly a better person just by knowing him and talking to him. But we spent a lot of time together over the last 50 years.”

Overall, Nelson averaged 21.1 points (1,522) and 10.9 rebounds (784) in his 72 game Iowa career. He left Iowa as the program’s all-time leading scorer.