"He has absolutely no idea how good he can be," said Porter. "In high school, he seemed to get bored or distracted when we were playing lesser teams, and I often had to get on him hard at halftime to push himself, get him to work harder and then watch him respond by going out in one game scoring 35 points in the second half. He'd say he was sorry afterwards."
Porter recalls how Nelson single-handedly took over important games for a section-game-record 52 points and another contest for 55 points. Porter said if Nelson were consistently self-motivated, Modesto Christian would have gone to two state championships.
"He's just so young, younger than his body would suggest," said Porter about the Modesto Bee's All-District MVP who turned just 18 in September. "If he can stay focused and learn, he'll be something greater than he imagined."
After UCLA lost four starters from last year's team, Lee knew he'd take on an increased role. An intensive offseason training program had Lee making 500 jumpers a day, running the sand dunes in Manhattan Beach and the steps in Santa Monica. He returned to Riverside only on weekends and played pickup ball with his old high school teammates.
Then adidas Nations hit, and Lee decided, "I felt like I should just be me."
Lee excelled against his fellow college counselors, a group that included Cincinnati's Deonta Vaughn, Baylor's Ekpe Udoh and Georgia Tech's Derrick Favors.
"He was really, really tearing people up," Anderson said.
Said Lee: "I just kind of knew I had it all along. I just felt this was basically my main stage."
His main stage now will be Pauley Pavilion, where tonight Lee begins his sophomore season, his first as a starter. UCLA coach Ben Howland said Lee's shot is what improved most this offseason. Others said it was his ball-handling. But after a sterling adidas camp, it was most likely his confidence.
"When he was at J.W. North, he was oozing with confidence," said Lee's father, Toshio. "But when you go to play at a high level, high-major program, every kid that goes into a program like that has been All-American. ... Once he learned he had to wait his turn, that's the big part. You've got to wait your turn."