What has been expected to be a season of impact for the Ole Miss freshman point guard has gotten off to a slow start because of various injuries, most notably a sprained ankle and a concussion.
Last Saturday against Southern Mississippi, the limp wasn't noticeable, and his explosiveness was on display.
"I got treatment at 8 a.m., and by 9 I was shooting," Nelson said. "The whole day I felt good. I was confident and relaxed, and shots began to fall."
Nelson was 3 for 5 from 3-point range and finished with 11 points in 16 minutes.
It's a stroke he hopes to carry with him on the road today. The Rebels (4-2) take on Arkansas-Little Rock in a 2 p.m., tip. The Trojans (6-3) are 5-0 at home with wins over Illinois State, Louisiana Tech and Tulsa.
The Southern Miss game was a breakout for Nelson. The last road game wasn't very good for most of the Rebels, Nelson included. He was 0 for 4 from the floor 0 for 3 from 3-point range in an 86-73 loss at Miami.
From game to game, health remains a question mark. Nelson said this week in practice he felt about 75 percent.
"It's very irritating. You can't go full speed or can't go as hard as you want to go for very long," Nelson said. "You have to give the ankle time to get the swelling down. I hope to get to 100 percent."
At less than full strength, Nelson has shown flashes of ability, the quick first step, the shot, the court awareness.
While a senior at Jackson Murrah last season, Rivals.com rated him the nation's No. 89 prospect.
In high school, he was a finisher at the rim and averaged 22.4 points, 3.5 assists last year.
"Our first six games have not been easies. It hasn't been a great opportunity for him to dive in and learn," Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said.
Nelson had scholarship offers from Mississippi State, Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas State and USC.
He scored 22 points and earned MVP honors in the Mississippi-Alabama all-star basketball game last year.
As his health increases, so does his role. At times he's on the floor along with senior point guard Chris Warren, a four-guard option Kennedy is trying to fine-tune.
"Chris has give me pointers on what to do and what not to do," Nelson said. "I like playing with him. I can penetrate and get him shots."
Some of what Nelson brings has been less learned and more a second nature. He has a comfort level with the basketball, a willingness to shoot that Kennedy wants to reign in a little bit - but not too much.
"His mentality has always been when in doubt shoot it," he said. "We want to change that but not always. I think he picked the right school."
Contact Parrish Alford at 678-1600