Wally Ellenson 3

Minnesota guard wins high-jump gold at Pan-American games

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One of the most important skills that a college basketball player can have is the ability to jump, so, theoretically, it would make sense guys that there would be some college hoopers that also happen to excel in the high jump.

Wilt Chamberlain was a dominant high-jumper in his day, but off the top of my head, I can’t think of another player that excelled in both sports at the college level.

That’s what’s so intriguing about Minnesota sophomore Wally Ellenson.

Ellenson didn’t play much for Tubby Smith last season, averaging just 2.0 points while seeing action in just nine games. And while his athleticism on the perimeter would seem to fit in better with Rick Pitino’s system, the Gophers are much deeper in the back court than they are in the front court, which could once against limit the minutes that he plays.

It’s different in track, however, where the all-american Ellenson won a gold medal in the high-jump in the Pan-Americans Games on Sunday in Medellin, CO. Ellenson cleared the bar at 7-feet, 1-inch.

“It’s surreal,” Ellenson told Minnesota’s athletics website. “(Winning a gold medal) was the goal throughout the whole competition, and I’m just thankful I was able to do it.”

Ellenson clearly has the talent to be an elite high-jumper, but he has a ways to go if he wants to set any kind of world record. Currently, 8-feet and 1/2-inch, which was cleared by Javier Sotomayor of Cuba in 1993, is the world record.

Playing basketball cuts into his training. His goal is to make it to the Olympics in 2016, which means that the part of his life that could end up taking a backseat is on the hardwood.

(h/t College Basketball Nation)

UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman out with a knee injury

UNLV forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. shoots against San Diego State during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
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The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.

The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.

They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.

That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.

Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:

VIDEO: Buddy Hield is ‘all money’ on game-winning three vs. No. 24 Texas

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) takes a shot over Oklahoma State forward Chris Oliver during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
(AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
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With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.

At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes

“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:

“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”

“It’s all money.”

Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.

Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .

Want to talk about coaching luxuries?

Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.