Marquette guard Wally Ellenson becomes three-time All-American in high jump

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While there are two-sport athletes in college basketball, there aren’t many who earn All-America honors in another sport. One athlete who can make that claim is Marquette guard Wally Ellenson, who on Friday earned All-America honors in the high jump for a third consecutive year.

Ellenson, who competed in the event at Minnesota before transferring to Marquette last July, finished fifth in the NCAA high jump final at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship meet in Eugene, Oregon. Ellenson was one of seven competitors to advance to the height of 2.22 meters (7 feet, 3.25 inches) but failed to get past that mark.

Texas Tech’s Jacob Duffield won the national title in the event. Ellenson will also be competing in the U.S. Track and Field National Championships at the end of this month.

Ellenson sat out this past season on the basketball court (track and field transfers aren’t required to sit a year), and he’ll have two years to play for Steve Wojciechowski. Joining Ellenson on the roster is his younger brother Henry, a 6-foot-10 forward regarded as one of the top players in the Class of 2015.

Marquette’s crop of newcomers, a five-member freshman class ranked 14th nationally by, are expected to help the team take a major leap forward in Wojciechowski’s second season at the helm.

Wally Ellenson to transfer to Marquette, will his brother follow?

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Minnesota transfer Wally Ellenson has announced that he will be transferring to Marquette in the fall.

The 6-foot-6 Ellenson left the Golden Gophers in February to pursue the high jump, and it worked, as he finished second in the event at the NCAA finals. He previously had won gold at the Pan-American Junior Championships in Medellin, Colombia.

Ellenson played in just 18 games in his two seasons with Minnesota. He’ll have to sit out the 2014-2015 season in hoops, but he will have two years of eligibility left on the hardwood beginning in 2015-2016.

What’s interesting about this move has less to do with Wally than it does with his younger, but bigger, brother. Henry is a 6-foot-10, 230 pound, five-star recruit that currently ranks 17th nationally in the Class of 2015, according to He’s being recruited by everyone — Duke, North Carolina, Michigan State, Wisconsin and … Marquette.

New Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski has done a good job with the in-state kids that he’s targeted. He kept top 100 commit Sandy Cohen from leaving after Buzz Williams left, he still holds a commitment from Class of 2015 top 100 guard Nick Noskowiak and he landed a commitment from three-star big man Mark Heldt.

The Ellensons are also from Wisconsin. Is Wojo adding Wally with an eye on bringing Henry aboard as well?

Wally Ellenson leaves Minnesota basketball program to focus on track and field

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After appearing in nine games this season, Minnesota sophomore guard Wally Ellenson has elected to leave the basketball program, the school announced on Tuesday afternoon. Ellenson made this decision in an effort to fully commit to the Golden Gophers’ track and field team.

“We respect Wally’s decision, and wish him, Coach Steve Plasencia and the Gophers track and field team nothing but the best this season,” Minnesota first-year head coach Richard Pitino said in a statement.

The 6-foot-6 Ellenson is a talented high jumper, placing eighth at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, earning first-team All-American honors. In August, he won the gold medal in the high jump at the Pan-American Games, clearing 7-feet, 1-inch.

He was averaging 1.8 points and 1.3 rebounds in 6.9 minutes per game for Minnesota. That was a slight bump in playing time after averaging 2.0 points in 5.3 minutes per game for Tubby Smith during the 2012-2013 season.

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)