ESPNBoston.com and its High Schools section today announce that Tyler Nelson, senior guard at Central Catholic High School, is the recipient of its fourth annual "Mr. Basketball" award, given annually to the top male high school player in Massachusetts.
The Mr. Basketball Award winner was chosen by a panel of experts made up of ESPNBoston.com staff, correspondents and analysts. Nelson will be presented the award at a later date. He joins Brighton’s Malik James (2013), King Philip’s Jake Layman (2012) and St. John’s Prep’s Pat Connaughton (2011) among past recipients in the award’s four-year history.
"We are pleased to present the Mr. Basketball award to one of the most decorated players in Central Catholic’s history," said ESPN Boston High Schools editor Brendan C. Hall, who coordinates the site’s basketball coverage. "From his first minutes off the bench as a freshman to his final high school game earlier this month, Tyler’s shooting ability has always been held in high regard. But this season, he took his game to a whole other level."
The 6-foot-2 Nelson, a Haverhill native, started his senior season off with a bang, going off for 26 points in a loss to national power St. Anthony (N.J.) and never looking back. Earlier this month, the Raiders captured their second straight MIAA Division 1 North title and reached the Division 1 State Championship Final for the third time since 2008, falling to Springfield power Putnam in a dramatic finish.
For the season, Nelson averaged 21.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 2.4 steals, and was a remarkably accurate shooter. He shot 51 percent from the floor, including a 44 percent clip from three-point range, and was 91 percent from the free throw line.
"The things that have separated Tyler from other players is his passion to win, and his ability to add a new dimension to his game in the off-season," said Central Catholic head coach Rick Nault. "I have been blessed with many great players in my eight years as coach, but Tyler Nelson is probably the best of the bunch."
Nelson leaves Central Catholic with 1,531 career points and as the first-ever player to earn three consecutive ESPN Boston All-State selections. He was also named the state's Gatorade Player of the Year this season, as well as Co-MVP of the Merrimack Valley Conference.
Next fall, Nelson will continue his career at Fairfield University.
"Tyler has had a great career and has won a full lot of games at Central Catholic the last four years," Nault said. "Tyler is a self-made player. He has made himself the player he is today by spending time in the gym every day and improving his game. He came to us as a scrawny 5-foot-6 shooter who could knock down three’s, and finishes his career being the most complete offensive player in Massachusetts."