Basketball experiences a time of new leadership

Caleb Nelson, 11, plays basketball against Torrey Pines last season.

Courtesy of Caleb Nelson

Caleb Nelson, 11, plays basketball against Torrey Pines last season.

Jake Kremers, Sports Editor

While this year’s varsity boys basketball team will feature many senior starters in the lineup, junior Caleb Nelson looks to lead the way. The 6-foot-5-inch shooting guard had a breakout sophomore year and hopes to establish himself as a college recruit. 

Fresh off a D2 championship win against Rancho Buena Vista, the team is excited to prove themselves against several D1 teams. Moving up in divisions has been a focal point for the team, and Nelson knows the games will get even more competitive this upcoming season. 

“We had a solid playoff run last year, but we want to start establishing ourselves against the best teams in the Avocado League,” Nelson said. “We have the talent and experience to compete with anyone.”  

Unfortunately, Nelson suffered a broken collarbone in the CIF championship football game. As he caught a pass from quarterback Aiden Sayin, the defender landed on Nelson as they went to the ground. He’ll be forced to miss the first half of the season, and expects to return playing around mid January.

“It was devastating to get injured on the last game of the season. My main concern playing football was to not get injured for basketball season,” Nelson said. “Luckily I’m not out the entire season and I’ll be able to return for league games.”

Nelson adds value to the team by leading them in multiple offensive and defensive stats. On offense, he averaged nearly 12 points and six rebounds a game. On defense, he notched one and one half blocks and one steal a game. The “two way” player is how his playing style is described.

He’s incredibly humble for how good he is. He’s only a junior but he has a strong leadership mentality that all of the senior guys can get behind.

— Sam Hasegawa

“I thrive on spreading the floor and creating mismatches for our opponents,” Nelson said. “I can also defend against the other team’s guards and forwards because of my length.” 

Putting Nelson into the game plan hasn’t been a problem. Having a tall guard that can shoot the three and guard well creates problems for opposing teams. His teammates acknowledge what Nelson has done for the team. 

“Caleb has an impactful presence on the court,” senior Kyle Vassau said. “This dude can pull up from anywhere and also lets up no easy baskets on the defensive end.”

His lifelong best friend, senior Bradley Smidt, has grown up watching Nelson work on his game and transform into the player he is today. As this will be their last year playing together, Smidt looks back on how far they’ve come and how much he appreciates their bond on and off the court.

“We’ve spent countless hours in the gym, grinding to get to this spot,” Smdit said. “There’s no doubt that Caleb’s gonna go off this year. He’ll be playing D1 college basketball in a couple years, so I’m stoked for everything that’s ahead of him.” 

The sharpshooter already has an offer to play basketball at Point Loma Nazarene University. Many expect Nelson will begin to reel in offers from D1 schools throughout the year. Nelson’s teammates attribute this success to not only his skills, but his character as well.

“He’s incredibly humble for how good he is,” junior Sam Hasegawa said. “He’s only a junior, but he has a strong leadership mentality that all of the senior guys can get behind.”