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Jeff Kolpack, Published February 18 2011

Where are they now?: Nelson keeping basketball dreams alive in Europe

The overseas professional basketball career of former North Dakota State standout Mike Nelson was hanging by a franc. He was released by his Fribourg team in the Swiss league and was inactive for a month.

“I was just about to give up on a basketball and book a plane ticket home,” Nelson said. “Then at the last second, a team from Austria calls.”

The Kapfenberg Bulls wanted Nelson there the next day and that’s where he will finish out this season.

He was enjoying his experience with Fribourg playing about 20 minutes a game and averaging 10 points. The reason for being released he was told is the shooting guard whom Nelson replaced came back from an injury sooner than expected and the team also needed a center.

So instead of flying back to the United States, Nelson hooked up with a familiar friend and old teammate: Ben Woodside. He stayed with Woodside, who is still playing for Gravelines, France.

“I decided to stay in Europe during this process because it would be a lot cheaper for a team to bring me in as opposed if I had to fly back from the States,” Nelson said. “The Gravelines team was very accommodating and showed great hospitality during my stay.”

Nelson said the rest of this season will determine if he’s going to continue his basketball career next season. He spent his first season with Sioux Falls of the NBA D-League.

“The D-League was a completely different experience,” he said. “Let me just say I am learning a lot more about myself and the world by bringing my career overseas. I am really enjoying this experience having seen different places in Europe in one year.”

Woodside, by the way, continues to excel for BMC Gravelines. He’s averaging 16.3 points and 5.9 assists in league games and 17.7 points and 5.0 assists in EuroChallenge games.