Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Roberto Nelson partially cleared for Oregon State

Nothing was expected from Oregon State in the '08-'09 season, but they surprised quite a few people as they went 18-18 on the year, winning the CBI and going 7-11 in the Pac-10 (which was seven more conference wins than they had the season before).

As they returned five of their top six scorers this season, there were some who thought that Craig Robinson's team may be a sleeper in the Pac-10.

But the Beavers have struggled a bit in the early going. They've started the season just 6-5, which includes losses to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Sacramento State, and Illinois-Chicago.

A big reason is that OSU is not getting the same production from guys like Roeland Schaftenaar, Calvin Haynes, and Lathen Wallace, whose numbers have all regressed from last season. As a result, the Beavers, who like to play at a slow pace as it is, have struggled to put points on the board at time. In their five losses, they have averaged 54.2 ppg and have yet to break 63 points. In contrast, they are averaging 70.5 ppg in their six wins.

To be fair, no one thought the Beavers a contender even in their own conference, but it is still safe to say the Beavers have played below expectations.

Perhaps the biggest reason is that OSU has yet to put their full team on the court.

The star of Craig Robinson's recruiting class, 6'4" off-guard Roberto Nelson, has yet to be cleared by the NCAA. Nelson is a scorer, and as we mentioned, OSU needs all the points they can get.

Nelson may be inching closer to gaining eligibility this season, however. On Friday, he was cleared by the NCAA to participate in practices.

"He can do everything as if he's a redshirt," coach Craig Robinson told the Corvallis Gazette-Times. "He can come to home games and be with the guys, go in the locker room, be a part of the team. Before, he was like a student on an unofficial visit. He couldn't eat with the guys, he couldn't do anything with the guys. Now he can take advantage of the dormitory and the meal plan and all that kind of stuff.

"He practiced (Friday) for the first time and it was evident that he can help us, so it's a good feeling but it's even better for Roberto."

But is it too late?

In other words, is it worth using up a year of Nelson's eligibility when he will only be competing during Pac-10 play? He still has the option of redshirting. Oregon State looks to be building a program under the tutelage of Robinson, and assuming he can continue his successful recruiting, the Beavers may be a much better team in what would be Nelson's fifth season in Corvallis than they do this year.

The issue holding up Nelson's eligibility are some online classes that he took while in high school.

"[The NCAA] went through his high school courses," Robinson told the Corvallis Gazette-Times. "They went through all of his on-line course and they probably looked at every single one and all the work he did in it to make sure that it was kosher and came down to the decision that what he needs now is a higher score. Then once he gets a certain score, he'll be able to play."

Here's a mixtape of Nelson from his high school days:

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