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I am not really the guy who wants to pay to read content, especially in sports when there are so many great blogs and sources like ESPN providing it for free. However, I couldn't pass up on this student deal and decided to give The Athletic a try. 

I gotta give credit where it's due—it's a great site. I was never a big fan of hitting a link to an article only to see a paywall, but in today's journalism business I see why it's necessary. And after subscribing to The Athletic, I am glad I came across some amazing stories.

One that was suggested to me was this older September 2019 article about Indianapolis Colts stud All-Pro offensive lineman Quenton Nelson. It's a great piece, which talks about Nelson's upbringing, his mentality, and how he's always been this huge, strong dude. 

There was a nice tidbit in the piece that I am surprised was never shared. I looked it up and could not find anyone who talked about it other than this piece from The Athletic. Although it's over a year old, it is still worth sharing, in my opinion.

The article mentions how when Nelson was coming up in high school, he had played some basketball. Of course, he played center. 
Basketball lasted through high school, where Nelson was a bruising center on the Red Bank Catholic team during the school year, then for his AAU team in the spring and summers.

“There was always a good amount of guys taller than him,” his older brother, Connor, remembers. “But there were never any guys wider.”
Connor definitely was not lying. The article goes on to talk about how Nelson was dominating in the paint against a top basketball recruit, who ended up becoming a star in the NBA. Although Nelson was much shorter, his size allowed him to take control in the post and get rebounds. 
One particular AAU opponent, back when Quenton was in sixth or seventh grade, stood six inches taller, and he’d soon become the recruiting target of every major program in the country. Quenton held his own that day, boxing out the star recruit all game long, keeping him off the glass, forcing him into some frustrating over-the-back calls.
And who is this basketball player, you may ask? 
A few years later, Karl-Anthony Towns was the first overall pick of the Timberwolves in the NBA Draft.
Unbelievable. Nelson really held his own against the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft. Towns, of course, is no slouch either. 

However, there have been jokes made in the past regarding his "toughness," whether it's the story of Jimmy Butler going 1-on-5 with the backups against T-Wolves' starters or his ordeal with DeMarcus Cousins. 


Even Philadelphia 76ers star center Joel Embiid has gotten into some beef with the Minnesota big man:


However, I would think twice if you're going to call Towns "soft" or not that good. You don't know basketball if you are saying that. 

The numbers speak for themselves, as he is averaging 22.4 points, 10.7 rebounds, and four assists per game so far this season. For his career, he's averaging 23 and 12 on 53% shooting. 

I just think it's amazing that Nelson was able to ball out against one of the best big men in the NBA. It definitely speaks to his strength, size, and toughness. Defensive players do not want to go up against that man. 

Colts linebackers Anthony Walker and Darius Leonard speak the same sentiments about Nelson:
“I’m not gonna lie,” chimes in Anthony Walker, another Colts defender. “If I was a linebacker for another team, I’d be scared of Quenton Nelson. I wouldn’t mess with that dude.”

So, on the practice field, Leonard and Walker have come to a consensus: they don’t. It’s probably a wise move. Even at slower speeds, even in practice, Nelson is a problem. Leonard says he avoids one-on-one collisions with Nelson by using his long arms to soften the blow.

“You see how big that man is?” says Leonard, last year’s NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. “See, I’m smart. I use my hands. I got long arms. I’m not gonna let him try and kill me. Because if he gets his hands on you, it’s over. I don’t care if it’s practice or a game, on the field, between those lines, he’s got no friends. Sometimes he’ll catch himself, he’ll push me and be like, ‘Oh, man, my bad.’ But in his mind, he’s a killer.”
The Colts definitely landed a keeper getting Nelson at No. 6 overall in the NFL Draft a few years ago. As a fan of the team, I'm glad they selected him. 

Maybe the Indiana Pacers could use some of his help in the post to complement Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner. 

UPDATE

Quenton Nelson's mother, Maryellen Nelson, adds more credibility and insight to this awesome story. Appreciate it Mrs. Nelson! 

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