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)

Utah lands top-75 center Jayce Johnson

Larry Krystkowiak
AP Photo
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Utah picked up its center of the future on Monday as four-star center Jayce Johnson pledged to the Runnin’ Utes, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. The 7-foot Johnson recently cut his list to Cal, Colorado and Utah with the possibility of reclassifying to the Class of 2015.

Regarded as the No. 67 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, Johnson will look to attend Utah in December as a walk-on who will redshirt. While Johnson likely won’t play this season, he does give head coach Larry Krystkowiak another big man to use in practice to go against sophomore center Jakob Poeltl. A solid long-term prospect, Johnson has a good frame to add weight and he’s also skilled finishing with both hands. Utah now has its replacement for Poeltl if he opts to leave for the NBA after the season and he gets an extra semester to work with the program.

Johnson is coming off of his official visit to Utah this weekend as he joins junior college guard Jojo Zamora in the Class of 2016.


PHOTO: South Carolina gets new uniforms

Frank Martin
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South Carolina debuted some new uniforms early this week as the school is going with a fresh look and three color ways.

They’re also going to with the “Carolina” branding this season, but I think these new uniforms look pretty cool.