Marek Nelson transferred to Sunrise Christian Academy in Bel Aire, Kan., last year with the intention of playing there for two seasons, one as a senior and one as a preparatory student. The Texas native planned to develop his game, earn some scholarship offers and join a D1 program in 2018.
Western Kentucky wanted him in 2017. He was happy to oblige.
The 6-foot-7, 200-pound wing who began his high school career at Plano East High School committed to the Hilltoppers on May 13 and immediately signed. Though it's been a whirlwind year, the three-star prospect (Rivals) is excited, hungry and ready to "start the process."
"Two of the biggest [reasons for choosing WKU] were because of the good relationship I built and felt with the coaching staff," Nelson told HERO Sports. "The relationship with the coaching staff is something that made my decision-making process much more comfortable."
Second-year WKU head coach Rick Stansbury targeted Nelson as either a 2017 or 2018 recruit, though he knew Nelson could fill an immediate hole and implored him to join the best class in program history.
"He wants me to come in and have an impact on the direction of the program," Nelson told Scout. "He told me all about the tradition there and what the culture is like and how he's working to put them on the same playing field as Kentucky and Louisville in what is a big basketball state."
Their seven-man class highlighted by five-star center Mitchell Robinson ranks 10th nationally, two spots behind Louisville and ahead of Kansas, Michigan State and North Carolina. Like Robinson, four-star guard Josh Anderson and other signees, Nelson passed on high-major offers and interest to join a program seeking their first Sweet Sixteen since 2008.
"The recruiting class that Coach Stansbury has . . . made the decision a little easier," said Nelson. "We will have a talented group of guys next year, and I'm excited for what's in store for us next year."
Nelson describes himself as a versatile player capable playing the two, three or four spots, and made it clear to Stansbury that he wants to be a lockdown defender for the Hilltoppers. He also told the Bowling Green Daily News that Stansbury is someone he can trust and says the former Mississippi State head coach and Texas A&M assistant stood out during a recruiting process that featured a wave of late interest.
"He’s the same guy he was as when he first started coaching. He’s trustworthy. There aren’t a lot of guys like that from my recruiting experience personally that have the special character he does. That really means a lot to me.”
Nelson said he leaves for Western Kentucky on June 11.