Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel confirmed on Thursday afternoon what Paint Touches suspected on Wednesday night: Wally Ellenson is no longer a part of the Marquette men's basketball team.
Ellenson originally joined the Marquette team in the summer of 2014, transferring from Minnesota after it was obvious that head coach Richard Pitino didn't see a role for Ellenson on his team. He sat out the 2014-15 season on a transfer redshirt, but still participated in track and field for both the indoor and outdoor schedules, earning two Big East titles and two NCAA All-American honors along the way. He played in 29 games for Marquette this past season with one start. Ellenson averaged two points and two rebounds in 9 minutes per game.
It was evident something was going to have to move on the roster when Duquesne grad transfer L.G. Gill scheduled a visit to Marquette last week. That was on top of the visit scheduled by Canadian big man Kalif Young, and with Katin Reinhardt and Markus Howard officially on board for this coming fall, Marquette was out of scholarship space. If Gill and Young were being told by head coach Steve Wojciechowski and his staff that there was a place for them on the roster, then one of Marquette's returning 10 scholarship players was going to have to go for that to work.
Since things had come this far down the road since the season ended, it seemed unlikely that any of the players were going to transfer. This, however, is not a transfer. Ellenson is just no longer a part of the team, and Velazquez pointed out in his article that Ellenson can continue his enrollment at Marquette in order to use his one remaining season of eligibility in indoor track and field.
At the time that Wally Ellenson joined Marquette, it seemed like an obvious move for Wojciechowski in order to attract the attention of Ellenson's younger brother, Henry. The younger Ellenson would eventually join his older brother in Milwaukee, and assembled the most impressive freshman campaign in Marquette history. He has since left Marquette to enter the NBA Draft, and that's where we get into a bit of a sticky wicket. I've got no problems with Wojo giving Wally a scholarship in order to reel in Henry. I don't even have a problem with letting a guy know that he's just not going to play for your team any more and give him a chance to find a new landing pad. That's not what's happening here. It's a more than a little bit shady to send Wally to the curb upon Henry's departure merely because Marquette's roster appeared to be in need of more size. If the price for getting Henry to play for Marquette was three seasons of Wally on scholarship, then you pay it and don't think twice.
As Paint Touches pointed out on Wednesday night, there is now a clear rift between Steve Wojciechowski and the Ellenson family. Here's Henry and Wally's mother, right after ESPN's Jeff Goodman tweeted the news of Wally's departure.
Smoke and Mirrors https://t.co/zF5EXhJ6qd— Holly Ellenson (@HollyJElle) April 21, 2016
What's the point of using Wally to attract Henry if you're going to piss off the whole Ellenson family 45 minutes after Henry leaves? Isn't the point of recruiting Henry to bolster the program as a whole? Is Marquette's basketball program coming out ahead when, in theory, Henry refuses to have any future contact with the program or the university? How do you think Henry and Wally's teammates feel about how the Ellensons have been treated by the coaching staff? Whatever the coaching staff is telling the returning players, you know that they're all going to get the Ellenson side of the story fairly easily.
Let's bottom line this: Marquette has gone without a postseason appearance for the past three seasons. It would be extremely beneficial to Steve Wojciechowski's coaching career for that streak to end with an NCAA tournament appearance in March of 2017.