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Marquette Basketball: The Case For Henry Ellenson To Declare For The 2016 NBA Draft

If the freshman forward leaves school after one season, these are the reasons why.

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

1) Henry Ellenson Will Be A Lottery Pick In The 2016 NBA Draft

It's pretty much a consensus at this point.  Draft Express has Ellenson as the #8 pick in their mock draft.'s Chad Ford has Ellenson at #4 on his Big Board.  CBS has mock drafts from both Sam Vecenie and Gary Parrish, both of whom are college basketball writers for the Eye, and they have Ellenson at #7 and #8 respectively.  SB Nation's very own Ricky O'Donnell has Ellenson tabbed 5th.

If you are going to be a lottery pick, then a lot of the guess work has been taken out of it for you.  At that point, teams are essentially lining up to acquire your services, and you don't have to worry about if you'll get drafted.  It's only a matter of when.

2) Being A First Round Pick And Specifically A Lottery Pick Means Becoming An Instant Millionaire.

God bless Larry Coon.  He's the brains behind the delightfully informative NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement FAQ located at

For those that were not aware, if you're drafted in the first round of the NBA Draft, the base salary and years of your rookie contract is written in stone via the CBA.  You can find the full breakdown here, but the #1 pick in the 2016 draft will get paid $4.9 million for the 2016-17 season, while pick #30, the final pick in the first round, will earn just a shade over $976,000.  The first two years of your contract are guaranteed, which means even that #30 pick is guaranteed a raise for Year 2.  All 1st round pick contracts come with a team option for year three, and even guys like Marquette's own Lazar Hayward who never pan out as an NBA player get that third year picked up.  It's a cheap value for a team to maintain the rights for a young player, and you don't want to give up on a guy until you are absolutely sure he's not going to work out for you.

Every single player taken in that first round is guaranteed paychecks of over $3 million at the absolute least.  For Ellenson, who isn't expected to drop below #10, that's a floor of more than $6.7 million.

Get.  That.  Paper.

3) Henry Ellenson Will Only Play Professional Basketball For A Certain Number Of Years

There are four players in the NBA who are 39 years old: Vince Carter, Tim Duncan, Andre Miller, and Kevin Garnett.  Only five guys are 38.  Down at 37 years old?  Only four players, and one of them is the soon to be retired Kobe Bryant.

There are some variables in there, but a large quantity of the guys who are that age and still kicking around are absolute legends of the game.  As much fun as it has been to watch Henry Ellenson play for Marquette this season, the odds are against him being an NBA legend by the time his playing career is over.  Only so many guys get to be legends, y'know?

The point is that even for legends, you don't see NBA guys lasting til the age of 40.  It's hard for guys to last til the age of 35.  There's only so many years that Ellenson is going to be able to play professional basketball, even if he goes overseas at some point in his career.  By staying in school, Henry Ellenson will take one year off of his professional lifespan.  That's a year of getting paid to play basketball that he would never get back.  If he stays in school to "hone his game," (and do not get me started on how stupid that concept is), he doesn't magically get another year of professional hoops down the road.

Henry Ellenson will literally be throwing money away by staying in school.  This is a bad idea.

4) The 2017 NBA Draft Pool Looks To Be Deeper Than 2016.

In their final ratings update, 247 Sports marked Henry Ellenson as the 9th best player in the class of 2015 in their Composite system rankings.  They gave him a rating of 0.9958.

If he were slotted into the Class of 2016 Composite rankings, that 0.9958 would make Ellenson tied for 12th with Jonathan Isaac, a 6'10" small forward committed to Florida State.  In other words, 247 Sports' Composite ranking system thinks there are 11 players coming into college hoops next year that are already better than Ellenson.  That's on top of the four international players that Draft Express has tabbed as lottery picks in their current 2017 mock draft.

Whether he's at Marquette or on an NBA roster, Henry Ellenson will probably be a better basketball player one year from now.  Even if that's the case, if those freshmen coming in are as good as advertised, Ellenson could struggle to get drafted in the lottery in 2017.  Staying in school will cost him money because of those locked in place rookie contracts.

5) The Dreaded "I" Word

Let's all flash back to the night of Tuesday, March 1.  That was the night of Marquette's home game against Georgetown.  At the 7:20 mark of the second half, Henry Ellenson sank a jumper to give the Golden Eagles a seven point lead, landed, rolled his ankle, and then didn't return to the game.

Now, to be fair, he didn't miss any time other than the rest of that game.  But if you were in the Bradley Center that night, you know what kind of a hush fell over the crowd.  Given his reaction to that ankle sprain, the possibility that his season was completely over was on the table.

What happens if he comes back for his sophomore season and the same thing happens in game #4, except he gets tangled up with a defender and blows his ACL out while falling to the ground?  It'll be the same rehab that he would be doing if the same thing happened if he entered the draft, except he's not getting paid while it happens.  It probably also murders his chances of getting drafted in the 2017 NBA draft, because he won't be ready to participate in workouts by April, and teams aren't excited about gambling on a guy with a still recovering ACL.  Remember Nerlens Noel?  He was going to be the #1 pick in the draft before he blew his knee out, and he ended up dropping to sixth.  Ellenson is projected as going lower than that right now, so I can't imagine how far he'd fall if teams had to evaluate him through a devastating injury.

Ellenson already flirted with a season ending injury while not getting paid to play basketball when NBA teams clearly want him on their rosters.  There is absolutely no reason for him to even risk the possibility of missing out on paychecks due to injury while playing for Marquette.

Curious about the reasons why Henry Ellenson would stay in school?  We thought you would be, so we have a list of those, too.