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Emarion Ellis Undergoes Stress Fracture Surgery

Not the best news for a guy who struggled to get playing time last season.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 11 DePaul at Marquette Photo by Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In what I presume was a chat about this past weekend’s M Club golf outing and 2003 Final Four team reunion, Ben Steele from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel pulled up a little bit of Marquette men’s basketball health news from head coach Shaka Smart. Sophomore guard Emarion Ellis recently had surgery to correct a stress fracture in his knee.

That’s the news, here’s the bad news: Ellis will be out of action for four months before beginning to rehab from the surgery and regain his basketball fitness.

Today is August 10th. Four months from today is December 10th. On December 11th, Marquette is scheduled to wrap up non-conference play for the 2022-23 season when they visit Notre Dame. In other words: The best case scenario for Ellis’ upcoming season is that he misses all of non-conference play. It’s almost assuredly going to be longer than that, as Smart requires a high amount of cardio ability from his players just to step onto the floor much less play regular minutes.

While it will remain Ellis’ option on whether or not to take a redshirt on the entire season and focus on being fully ready to go in November 2023, part of that decision will have nothing to do with what Ellis wants to do. The start of preseason practices is about two months away right now, and Smart and his staff will have begin to prepare their team to play without Ellis available for action. That’s going to lead to something of a calcification of roles on the squad between now and the middle of December when Ellis might be ready to go. If that clearance from the doctors and the training staff pushes off later and later into January.... at some point, Smart is going to end up telling Ellis “Look, you’re not going to play this year anyway.”

While Ellis was recruited to Texas when Smart was the head coach for the Longhorns, that didn’t translate into playing time as a freshman last season. Ellis appeared in just 14 games for a total of 85 minutes, and played just twice for seven combined minutes after January 14th. Ideally, it seems the plan was for Ellis to develop into a contributor during his sophomore campaign, but the “a strong summer of strength and conditioning and skills training” part of that plan has obviously been majorly derailed at this point. Combine his recovery from this surgery into the mix, and I have no idea how the coaching staff can possibly work him into minutes on the fly as the season goes on.

Quite honestly, it would probably mean very not positive things for freshman guards Sean Jones and Chase Ross for Ellis to suddenly show up around Christmas and start logging 10+ minutes a night for the Golden Eagles. If that ends up being MU’s best option at that point of the season, then so be it.... but that’s also probably not a very positive sign for how the season is trending either.

Best of luck to Emarion on his recovery.