Thursday, April 27, 2017

Eric Nielsen on his way to Sonoma State

If a coach finds his team down by anywhere from one to three points, in possession of the ball but 90 or so feet away from the basket and with just seconds remaining, 6-foot-10 Eric Nielsen of Diablo Valley College (DVC) is the person you want inbounding the ball. Not only does Nielsen's height give him a better sightline than anyone else but he's also a former college pitcher who can probably deliver the ball to a teammate quicker than most and he's headed to Sonoma State to play the next three years for Coach Pat Fuscaldo.

Nielsen averaged 8.4 points and 5.3 rebounds while shooting 59% as a Viking freshman for Coach Steve Coccimiglio. DVC concluded the season with a 20-10 overall record.

He's joining a program coming off a 20-9 finish and with a reputation for defensive prowess. So why the Seawolves?

"It's a good program and the coaches come highly recommended by my coach at DVC. The ream has a great bunch of guys and the campus and the area are beautiful."

Asked what he'll bring to Sonoma State, Nielsen offered, "obviously size and my post play." Both elements are certainly needed by the Seawolves since both bigs Nathan Molony-Benjamin Luke Cochran are graduating. "I've been injured for too long and I'm hungry to keep playing."

Nielsen was quite the baseball prospect coming out of Dublin High -- "I had a 96 miles-per-hour fastball and a hard slider at 90 before I tore my ulnar collateral ligament." He underwent Tommy John surgery, then rehabilitation and kept playing baseball.

In his second year post high school, Nielsen was at College of San Mateo but tore his rotator cuff and labrum.

The back-to-back injuries proved too much to overcome for someone trying to advance as a pitching prospect. "I hung up my cleats," Nielsen said.

Then came an absence from organized sports but Nielsen encountered the impetus to jump back in, this time with hoops. "It was three years since I played [basketball] but JoJo [McGlaston], a really good friend since fifth grade, pushed me and made me work out."

Sometimes it takes help from those surrounding us but credit Nielsen for doing the work necessary to be on the road to a college degree via the basketball court.

He'll be majoring in kinesiology, helping others with injury prevention and rehabilitation.

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