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2015-16 Marquette Basketball Player Preview: #13 Henry Ellenson

And now, the player preview you've been waiting for.

The big man.
The big man.

The 2015-16 college basketball season is right around the corner, so let's get into the Marquette basketball roster and take a look at what to expect from each player this season. We'll be going through the players one by one, starting with the freshmen, moving on to the lone available transfer, and then wrapping up with the four returning players, going in order of average minutes played per game last season.

Last year, we made a slight adjustment as to how we look at the players' upcoming season, and it seemed to work better, so we'll stick with the same three category headings this year:

What I Think We'll See
What I Want To See
What I Don't Want To See

With that out of the way, let's get tackle the most celebrated of the five freshmen....

Henry Ellenson

Freshman - #13 - Forward - 6'10" - 245 lb.

If you ignore the personal section (mom & dad's name, date of birth, brother is an Olympic-caliber high jumper, blah blah blah), Henry Ellenson's bio is already 377 words long.

377 words outlining his accomplishments to this point of his life, and he's yet to pull on a Marquette jersey for the very first time.  Finished his career at Rice Lake as the program's all time leading scorer with 2,275 points. Went from averaging 12 points, seven rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.5 blocks as a freshman to 27 points, 12 rebounds, 2.4 blocks, and 1.8 assists as a senior.  Led Rice Lake to two state tournament championship games.  Shared the Wisconsin Mr. Basketball award as a senior with Diamond Stone, who is now enrolled at Maryland.  Was named to the all-state First Team three years in a row.  Won a gold medal with Team USA's U17 squad in the 2014 FIBA World Championship.

I mean, I can go on.  There's more there, that's just the best stuff.

Oh, I forgot this one: Henry is Marquette's first recruit to be named to the McDonald's All-American Game since Kerry Trotter did that in 1982.

If that wasn't enough for you, then try this on for size: In addition to not being ranked any lower than 23rd in any of the four major recruiting service rankings (thanks for nothing, 247 Sports), Ellenson is currently sitting at #8 in the Draft Express 2016 NBA Draft mock draft.  Right now.  He's projected as an NBA lottery pick.  Right.  Now.

What I Think We'll See

Here's where I put the brakes on.  Those last five paragraphs did an awful lot of puffing Ellenson up.  Here's the reality of the situation: He's an 18 year old kid who's adjusting to college, both on and off the court.  He's not going to be perfect.  He's going to have stretches in games where he looks overwhelmed, and that might even turn into stretches during the season.  He might be the biggest NBA prospect in 99% of the games that Marquette plays this season, but he's going to screw up here and there.  It's going to happen.  Ellenson's mere presence on the roster does not automatically add 10 wins over last year when Marquette finished 13-19.

To put it another way: For most of the season, Henry Ellenson will be the most physically gifted and talented basketball player on the floor for most of Marquette's season.  That's not going to stop him from making a boo-boo here and there, though.

What I Want To See

Ok, wet blanket off.  Look at this video, pulled by Paint Touches from Marquette's game on the Europe trip against LSU-Atletas.

LOOK AT IT AGAIN.  I'll wait.

That is a 6'10", 245 pound dude grabbing a rebound, taking a dribble or two, realizing he can go coast to coast, going BETWEEN HIS LEGS to cross up some poor Lithuanian sap, and then Eurostepping into the lane for a delightfully simple finger roll, George Gervin style.


Here's the best case scenario for Ellenson: He wins Big East Player of the Year going away as his very particular set of skills allow him to adapt to college basketball with relative ease.  Not for nothing, but if that were to happen, I think we're all going to be pretty happy with how the season turns out.  The Big East coaches aren't going to vote a big stats guy from a lousy team as Player of the Year, y'know?

I should point out that the deck is slightly stacked against Ellenson pulling this off.  No freshman has ever won Big East Player of the Year, although 10 sophomores have won the award outright or have shared it with another player.  Perhaps it's not likely.  But I believe the possibility does exist, based on what I've seen from Ellenson already.  I mean, he's already the first freshmen to earn preseason all-conference honors since the Big East stopped creating a preseason all-freshman team.

Personally, I want to see Henry win POY while leading the Big East in scoring and rebounding (both of these things are completely reasonable, btw) JUST to see the reaction on Kevin Jones' face.

What I Don't Want To See

Uh, pretty much anything else.

Look, I watched those four games in Europe.  I get that those four clubs aren't close to the kind of caliber of team that Marquette is going to see night in and night out in the Big East.  But if Henry Ellenson wasn't the best player on the floor, then someone else was because Ellenson was creating so much havoc at that point that the theoretical someone else looked better because the opponent was trying to pay attention to Ellenson.

To put it another way:

There is only one thing that could legitimately stop Ellenson from at worst all-Big East honors at the end of this season, and if you think that I'm going to tempt fate and actually type that word out (it starts with an "i"), then you are a crazy person.