Holy Cross Director of Athletics Marcus Blossom has named Brett Nelson as the Crusaders’ next head men’s basketball coach. Nelson becomes the 18th head coach in the history of the program, joining Holy Cross after spending the last five seasons on the coaching staff at Marquette University.
“We are thrilled to welcome Brett and Jamie Nelson and their son, Eli, to Mount St. James,” said Blossom. “Brett is a dynamic competitor who is a proven winner as a player and coach. He has played for and coached with some of the best coaches in college basketball and has a proven track record of recruiting and developing student-athletes of character who will excel in the classroom and on the court. Coach Nelson will hit the ground running, and we look forward to competing for and winning championships under his leadership.”
For the last five years, including two seasons as associate head coach, Nelson has helped Marquette develop into one of the top programs in the Big East. The Golden Eagles have posted an overall record of 97-69 during that time, with two trips to the NCAA Tournament and one to the National Invitation Tournament.
“It is an absolute honor to be the next head coach at Holy Cross,” said Nelson. “My family and I are excited for this amazing opportunity. I would like to thank Fr. Boroughs, Marcus Blossom and the search committee for entrusting me to lead this storied program. Holy Cross has a rich basketball history while being one of the best academic institutions in the entire country. I’m eager to lead our student-athletes, and, together, we will work relentlessly to reach new heights as a program.”
During Nelson’s two years as associate head coach at Marquette, the Golden Eagles posted an overall record of 45-24. In 2018-2019, he helped Marquette to an overall record of 24-10, a second-place finish in the Big East (12-6) and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament. In 2017-2018, the Golden Eagles went 21-14 overall and advanced to the quarterfinals of the National Invitation Tournament. Marquette also had success during Nelson’s three seasons as an assistant coach, advancing to the NCAA Tournament in 2016-2017 and winning 20 games in 2015-2016.
Prior to his time at Marquette, Nelson spent one season as the associate head coach at Ball State University in 2013-2014. He was previously an assistant coach at Drake University for two seasons, with the Bulldogs tying for third in the Missouri Valley Conference and advancing to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament in 2011-2012.
Before his time at Drake, Nelson was an assistant coach at Arkansas in 2010-2011, helping the Razorbacks to a third-place finish in the SEC Western Division. Prior to that, he was an assistant coach at Marshall from 2007-2010, with the Thundering Herd going 24-10 and earning a berth in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament in 2009-2010.
Prior to landing his first coaching position, Nelson served as the director of basketball operations at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2006-2007 and Colorado State University in 2005-2006.
A former McDonald’s All-American, Nelson joined the coaching ranks after a successful playing career at the University of Florida, where he was a three-year starter for the Gators and a member of four NCAA tournament teams, including the 2000 squad that reached the national championship game. At the time of his graduation, Nelson ranked first in school history in 3-pointers made (274) and attempted (689), second in steals (198) and 14th in points scored (1,417). He was a two-time All-SEC selection in addition to earning third team All-America honors in 2001.
A 2004 graduate of Florida with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, Nelson went on to play professionally in Sweden. A native of St. Albans, W.Va., Nelson and his wife, Jamie, have one son (Eli).
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING ABOUT BRETT NELSON:
“I had the privilege to recruit, coach and develop a close relationship with Brett Nelson. I have never seen a harder worker and a more committed player and coach to the game of basketball. Brett has taken that same passion for the game and has developed into an outstanding basketball coach. Holy Cross is filled with passion and rich tradition, and Brett Nelson will embrace Holy Cross’ history. I am so happy for Brett and his family, and I am so excited for Holy Cross. In Brett Nelson, Holy Cross is not only getting a passionate coach, but they are getting a truly great person who will embrace the history of Holy Cross Basketball.”
– Billy Donovan, Oklahoma City Thunder head coach
“What an amazing hire for Holy Cross! Brett is as good a basketball mind and worker as I have been around in college basketball. He has made Marquette University and our players better every day that he has been with us. I am so happy for Brett, Jamie and Eli, and while we will miss them at Marquette, there is no doubt they will build on the rich tradition of Holy Cross basketball.”
– Steve Wojciechowski, Marquette head men’s basketball coach
“I have been blessed to work with Brett at both Ball State and Marquette. He’s an extremely talented coach with an excellent basketball mind. He’s a very good teacher of the game. But most importantly, he is a man of character and integrity who will do things the right way every day. He is incredibly well prepared to take this next step in his career. The Holy Cross family will love him. Great hire!
– Bill Scholl, Marquette Director of Athletics
“It’s hard to express my excitement and happiness surrounding Brett Nelson’s appointment to lead the Holy Cross men’s basketball program. His pedigree is unmatched. His work ethic is outstanding, and his character is impeccable. Congratulations to the Holy Cross players, fan base and community. Brett Nelson is an absolute winner.”
– Anthony Grant, Dayton head men’s basketball coach