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Originally published April 12, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified April 25, 2007 at 9:01 PM

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UW Men's Basketball | Nelson to transfer from Washington

Phil Nelson, a 6-foot-7 forward who just completed his freshman season at Washington, has decided to transfer, Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Phil Nelson, a 6-foot-7 forward who just completed his freshman season at Washington, has decided to transfer, Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar confirmed Wednesday night.

Romar said Nelson, a native of Keizer, Ore., is likely headed to Portland State, which is coached by former Huskies assistant Ken Bone.

"His familiarity with Coach Bone helped with that, and it's close to his home," Romar said. "Coach Bone does a lot of the same things we do, so it will be a comfortable place for him."

Nelson played in 31 of UW's 32 games this season, averaging 4.7 points, and started nine straight at midseason.

But his playing time fell off at the end of the season and he did not score in seven of UW's last 10 games, concluding with a scoreless two-minute effort in the finale against Washington State in the Pac-10 tournament.

Romar, however, said playing time wasn't necessarily the issue.

"He played," Romar said. "Sometimes guys just want a change."

Nelson's departure means that half of Washington's highly acclaimed 2006 recruiting class, judged by Scout.com as the No. 3 class in the country, could already be gone.

Center Spencer Hawes announced last week that he is declaring for the NBA draft, though he hasn't hired an agent and could return to school. (Guard Adrian Oliver and swingman Quincy Pondexter were also in the class).

"As the talent level increases and you have talent in more numbers, sometimes these things begin to happen," Romar said. "It is unfortunate, but it is not uncommon that it happens."

Nelson struggled with his shot, making 24 of 82 three-point attempts (29.3 percent). He scored a career-high 16 points in his first start at home against Arizona on Jan. 4 but hit double figures only twice the rest of the way.

Though Romar said playing time wasn't the sole issue, Nelson might have been swayed by what looms as a logjam on UW's perimeter.

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Two guards who sat out this season — Stanford transfer Tim Morris and the injured Joel Smith — will be back. Smith redshirted this season after suffering a stress fracture and has two more years of eligibility.

The Huskies also signed 6-6 swingman Justin Holiday in November, and are expecting a letter-of-intent this week from Franklin point guard Venoy Overton. Both will arrive next fall.

Nelson still is enrolled at UW and will finish the school year at Washington.

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