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Thursday, May 26, 2011

DES MOINES, Iowa—Drake University men’s basketball head coach Mark Phelps announced Thursday three additions to his coaching staff. Brett Nelson, in his seventh season as a collegiate coach after an All-America career at Florida, joins the staff as assistant coach, while former Arizona State point guard Jamelle McMillan was named director of basketball operations and former Drake guard Ryan Wedel as named graduate manager.

"We are very excited to welcome three new staff members to the Drake basketball family," said Phelps. "Brett Nelson, Jamelle McMillan and Ryan Wedel each bring outstanding basketball acumen, experience and passion to their respective positions and will be a great resource for our players. They each enjoyed outstanding college playing careers and demonstrated leadership qualities as captains on their respective teams."

Nelson joins Phelps' staff at Drake after spending the 2010-11 season at Arkansas. With Nelson on staff in his sixth coaching season and fourth as a bench coach, the Razorbacks finished 18-13, tied for third place in the SEC Western Division.

"Brett is a talented and experienced basketball coach with a commitment to excellence and high-level integrity and character," said Phelps. "He excels in all aspects of the profession, including on-the-floor coaching and skill instruction, scouting and game preparation, mentoring and recruiting. Brett's high-level playing experience, instinctive basketball savvy and IQ, and his terrific all-around personality will serve our players and our program extremely well. We are very happy to welcome Brett, Jamie and Eli into the Drake family."

In his one season at Arkansas, Nelson played a strong role in the recruitment of one of the nation's top 10 incoming classes. The 2011-12 Razorbacks class includes five players ranked in the top 106 in the country by ESPN.

"I'm very excited to be part of the family of Drake University," Nelson said. "Coach Phelps has a vision and a clear plan for Drake basketball. The future is very bright under his direction, and that of (Athletic Director) Sandy Hatfield Clubb. The commitment is there to do some special things and take the Bulldogs to the next level."

Nelson was hired at Arkansas May 20, 2010, after a two-month stay at Central Florida, where he was to continue working under head coach Donnie Jones, with whom he coached at Marshall from 2007-10.  

In the final season of his three-year run with the Thundering Herd, Nelson helped lead the team to a 24-10 finish in 2009-10 and a postseason win in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.  The postseason appearance was the first for a Marshall team in 22 years and its 11-5 record and third-place finish in Conference USA was the best since 2000-01.

The time at Marshall also developed Nelson's skills as gifted recruiter. He was instrumental in the recruitment and development of Marshall's Hassan Whiteside, who was named C-USA freshman and defensive player of the year. Whiteside led the nation in blocked shots in 2009-10 (182), the fourth-best single-season total in NCAA history. Whiteside was drafted after his freshman year 33rd overall by the Sacramento Kings in the 2010. Nelson's tutelage also attracted multiple All-C-USA players and a sixth-man of the year award winner.

Prior to coaching at Marshall, Nelson served as Director of Operations at Virginia Commonwealth (2006-07) and Colorado State (2005-06).  His VCU tenure included a 28-7 record and first round NCAA Tournament victory over Duke while working with current Alabama head coach Anthony Grant.

As a player, Nelson made himself into one of the best in Florida's history, leading the Gators to a Final Four and placing himself in the record books numerous times. A three-year starter, Nelson completed his career as Florida's school record-holder in three-point baskets made and attempted and ranked second on the all-time charts in steals, fifth in steals per game, sixth in assists and assists per game and 14th in scoring (1,416).

Nelson was named a preseason semifinalist for the Naismith Award as a senior in 2002-03. He also was an ESPN.com third-team and Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American in 2000-01, and was named to the 2000 NCAA Tournament All-East Regional team.

Nelson completed his collegiate eligibility in the winter of 2003 and stayed at Florida to finish his bachelor's degree in sociology in 2004. He played one season of professional basketball in Sweden in 2005 before returning to the United States to start his coaching career.

Nelson and his wife Jamie gave birth to their first child, Eli in September 2010.

McMillan is in his first year of coaching after a standout playing career at Arizona State. A former team captain for the Sun Devils, McMillan finished his career having played in 122 games and tied a school record by winning 80 of those contests over his four-year career.

"I have known Jamelle since his grade-school years when he attended basketball camp at North Carolina State," said Phelps. "Jamelle is a man of character and excellence who is the beneficiary of life-long exposure to the game at the highest level. He is a young star in our profession who has consistently demonstrated and modeled high achievement in every part of his life, including basketball. These attributes and experience, along with a great work ethic, passion for the game and for people, and advanced maturity make him a terrific addition to our staff."

McMillan was part of a trio of 2010-11 seniors who were the first in Sun Devils history to record 80 wins over the course of their careers. McMillan started 78 games at ASU and played a crucial role as the team's floor leader in each of his four seasons. His importance to the team was reflected in its 74-48 (.607) record with him in uniform and 6-5 (.545) ledger without him, as he recorded an impressive 321-153 assist-to-turnover ratio (2.10).

"I feel very fortunate and blessed to have the opportunity to accept such a great position at Drake University," McMillan said. "With the quality of the people and their dedication, as well as the support staff I've met, Drake seems like the best fit for me. It's a place where I feel I can get a successful jump-start on my career. I'm excited to get started and looking forward to a great season ahead.

A full-time starter over his final two seasons (2009-10, '10-'11), McMillan led the Pac-10 in assist-to-turnover ratio as a senior and finished 14th nationally at 2.68 (110 assists and 41 turnovers). He finished his career ranked 10th in ASU annals for three-point shooting percentage at 37.3%.

The captain and team leader averaged 11.0 points in the final 11 games and was 23-of-50 (.460) from three-point range. McMillan posted three of the top scoring games of his career in the final 11 contests.

The son of Portland Trail Blazers head coach and former NBA player Nate McMillan, Jamelle in the summer of 2008 spent 16 days in China for the Olympics with Team USA, for whom his father was an assistant coach.

McMillan was one of the top point-guard recruits on the west coast his senior year (2006-07) at O'Dea High School in Seattle, Wash., after leading his team to three state titles (2004, '05 and '07). He was ranked as the top point guard on the west coast by Rivals and the No. 99 player overall by Scout.com after a senior season that saw him named Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of Washington.

Jamelle McMillan was born Dec. 30, 1988 in Seattle. He received his bachelor's degree in communication from Arizona State in May 2011.

Wedel takes over the role of graduate manager for the Drake basketball team, but is no stranger to the program, having been a member of the team for the past three seasons. The unquestioned leader on and off the court, and a captain last season, Wedel will have the opportunity to continue building on the foundation he has set for the team's future success.

"I have the highest respect and admiration for Ryan," said Phelps. "He was my first recruit as a head coach and set the standard for excellence, passion, commitment and work ethic for our basketball program in his three years here. He was born to play and coach the game, and I am thrilled that he begins his coaching career here at Drake. He will be an invaluable asset to our program, as he has instant credibility with our players, coaches, administration and everyone in the Drake community. His high-level basketball IQ, experience as a player, commitment to excellence and competitive fire will add immediate value to every part of our basketball program."

After a redshirt year in 2008-09 that followed his transfer from Arkansas State, Wedel stepped into the Bulldogs' lineup in 2009-10 and earned Missouri Valley Conference All-Newcomer honors. He played in all 64 games (63 starts) in his two seasons of play, and his 137 three-point baskets are eighth-most Drake's career list.

"I am excited about the opportunity to continue to be a part of the Drake Men's basketball program," Wedel said. "I am looking forward to the chance to work more in-depth with the coaching staff."

A two-time second-team All-MVC Scholar-Athlete, Wedel averaged 11.0 points per game and posted a 3.24 grade-point average, earning his bachelor's degree in management and marketing. His steady leadership on the floor produced a 112-85 assist-to-turnover ratio, as he selflessly switched from point guard to off guard midway through his junior season, and back to point guard midway through his senior campaign.

Wedel posted a top-10 mark for three-pointers in each of his two seasons of eligibility, dropping 66 in 2009-10 (T-10th) and 71 in '10-'11 to tie for seventh. His career high of 29 points came in a spectacular showcase on senior night, Feb. 23, 2011, as the lone senior on the Drake squad drained five three-pointers in the Bulldogs' 87-69 win.

In his final season Wedel started all 31 games and either led or shared the team lead in scoring 10 times. He ranked third in the conference in three pointers (71) and seventh in three-point shooting percentage (40.3%). In his junior season of 2009-10 he averaged 11.1 points per game and ranked second in the MVC in steals with 51 (1.5 per game).

Wedel was a two-year starting point guard at Arkansas State (2006-07, '07-'08), where he led the Sun Belt Conference in three-point baskets in 2007-08 with 90, second-best on the school's single-season list. He averaged 15.1 points per game to earn third-team all-conference honors.

Named Mr. Basketball in the state of Kansas in 2006, Wedel scored 25.6 points per game with 6.5 rebounds and 6.2 assists to cap a career in which he led his Minneapolis High School squad to record of 87-14 and three final four appearances in the Kansas Class 2A state tournament.

Michael Ryan Wedel was born July 30, 1987 in Minneapolis, Kansas.

 


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