In what has to be one of the least surprising news announcements coming out of the Al McGuire Center, possibly ever, ESPN's Jeff Goodman is reporting that Marquette freshman forward Henry Ellenson will hire an agent and enter the 2016 NBA Draft.
Marquette freshman Henry Ellenson will declare for the NBA Draft and sign with an agent, source told ESPN. No surprise— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) April 4, 2016
Given that Ellenson is generally regarded as a top 10 pick in the NBA Draft, the decision to leave school was merely one of financial security. As we outlined right after the season ended, the salary structure for rookie contracts is such where being a lottery pick guarantees you $10 million. The risks associated with coming back to school, namely injury and slipping down the draft board, are too high to turn down that kind of guaranteed money. The only legitimate reason to return to school for another season was an emotional one: to play one final season of college basketball with his older brother, Wally, who will be a senior for Marquette next year.
Ellenson led Marquette in both scoring and rebounding this past season, with his 9.7 rebounds per game coming in as the best average in the Big East. He was no slouch on a league level in the scoring department, either, as his 17.0 points per game was the third best average in the conference. Given those facts, it's not surprising that Ellenson was named the Big East Freshman of the Year and was the first freshman to be named to the All-Big East First Team since Carmelo Anthony in 2003.
He broke eight different Marquette freshman season records, and placed in the top 10 of four more categories. His freshman record of 321 rebounds this season also ranks #10 all time. He is the only Marquette freshman to ever score 500 points in a season, finishing with 561. Quite simply, he put together the greatest freshman season in Marquette history.
Go read those last two paragraphs a second time, and then think about this: Right now, there is someone (a lot of someones, really) out there hearing about Ellenson's decision to go pro and thinking "Yeah, but he ain't ready for the NBA."
I mean, REALLY.
With Ellenson's departure from the team combined with the addition of Markus Howard, head coach Steve Wojciechowski now has one open scholarship for the 2016-17 season. Here's how the scholarship picture looks right now: