The South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame is dedicated to the preservation, documentation and display of South Dakota's sports history.

Chad Nelson - Inducted 2015

The 1974 Yankton High grad was one of the few South Dakotans drafted by a pro basketball team – and the only one to be drafted twice.

The 6-foot-11 Nelson was a ninth-round pick of the New Orleans (now Utah) Jazz in 1978 and a 10th-round pick of the Atlanta Hawks in 1979. He did not play in the NBA, but he did play professionally in Israel for four seasons.

Courted by more than 100 colleges out of high school, he chose Minnesota. There he started a number of games as a freshman under Bill Musselman to help the Golden Gophers go 18-8.

Nelson then transferred to Drake, where he was second-team all-Missouri Valley Conference as a senior for Coach Bob Ortegel in 1979. In three seasons at Drake, he scored 955 points (12.1 a game) and had 512 rebounds (6.5).

In high school, Nelson led the Bucks to the state finals three years in a row (YHS was runner-up in 1972 and ’73 and champion in ’74) and he was a three-time first-team all-stater. As a senior under Coach Bob Winter, he averaged 21 points and 17 rebounds a game, and he had 24 points and 20 rebounds in the 70-51 state finals win over Rapid City Central. He was a Parade All-American, chosen as one of the top 40 preps in the nation in 1974. He still shares the record for most points scored in a Class AA state semifinal (36, in 1973). He still holds Yankton records for points in a game (41) and career (1,668) and rebounds in a season (387) and career (1,197).

 In high school, he also was a standout football player and was a state champion in the discus and shot put. He was chosen the S.D. High School Athlete of the Year for 1974 by the S.D. Sportswriters Association.


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