Marquette top recruit Ellenson wants to make ‘big statement right away’
All Henry Ellenson can remember is playing basketball and being recruited by countless college coaches throughout the country.
A recruiting process that began when Ellenson was in eighth grade and heated up during his freshman year at Rice Lake (Wis.) High School finally came to an end Wednesday when the five-star recruit officially inked his letter of intent to Marquette University, where both player and team are looking for him to make an immediate impact.
"It feels good just to have it official and that it is done that I’m going to Marquette," Ellenson told FOXSportsWisconsin.com in a phone interview. "It is just a great feeling to have this long recruiting process done. I feel that I made the right choice.
"It hasn’t been easy at times, answering all the phone calls from all these coaches. But I’m pleased with how it went and how it turned out."
Ellenson is the prize of Steve Wojciechowski’s first recruiting class since taking over as head coach of the Golden Eagles in April.
Headlining a group of four consensus top-100 prospects considered to be in the top five nationally by three different outlets, Ellenson is ranked as the No. 4 overall player in the class of 2015 by ESPN.com, No. 6 overall by Scout.com, No. 10 overall by 247 Sports, No. 17 by Rivals.com.
"Henry is as talented as any player in the country and has a good chance to be the national player of the year as a senior," Wojciechowski said in a release. "His versatility, which allows him to play at a high level all over the court, passion for the game and skill set made him a very unique prospect and as a result he was ranked among the top players in the nation."
Ellenson averaged 27.2 points, 13.1 rebounds, 2.7 blocks and 1.7 assists per game as a junior at Rice Lake. He won a gold medal playing for Team USA at the U17 world championships in Dubai this past August.
Marquette’s highest-ranked signee since Doc Rivers in 1979, Ellenson chose the Golden Eagles over Michigan State and Duke.
"I felt most comfortable with this staff," Ellenson said. "I felt close to other staffs, but this staff I felt right at home with. They felt like family to me. They are supportive and looking out for the best for me.
"I felt like their plan for me is something I liked a lot. I saw eye-to-eye with them on what they want to do with me and what I want to do. I liked their plan of getting me to the next level and developing me as a person and as a student."
Part of Marquette’s plan for Ellenson is to have the 6-foot-10 forward contribute in a big way immediately next season.
"Next summer I’m expected to hit the ground running," Ellenson said. "I know I want to come into college and make a big statement right away. That’s something they want from me, too. That’s where we really saw eye-to-eye.
"I want to do great things at Marquette. I want to do it early and do it fast. They are going to throw me into the fire, playing and getting after it, putting some pressure on me to play and hit shots and play my game."
Ellenson’s brother, Wally, transferred to Marquette from Minnesota this past summer. Wally Ellenson will sit out the 2014-15 season and then will have two years of eligibility to play with his brother.
"It is something special to do it with him," Ellenson said. "It is something I’m really excited for, just to know you will have family down there for support."
The Golden Eagles are severely undersized this season, as 6-foot-7 Steve Taylor Jr. is the tallest player on the roster until Indiana transfer and 7-foot center Luke Fischer is eligible on Dec. 14.
At 6-foot-10, Ellenson will provide Marquette with size next season, but he isn’t a traditional, back-to-the-basket power forward. Part of what intrigued Ellenson about Marquette was the fact Wojciechowski was willing to let him play in different spots.
"I want to play all over," Ellenson said. "I’m not a guy that’s going to go into the post or just go on the wing. I like to mix it up with my game and play all over the court."
Another impactful part of Ellenson’s decision to attend Marquette is what it means for in-state recruiting for the Golden Eagles. Including Sandy Cohen in the class of 2014, four of Wojciechowski’s first five commits are from the state of Wisconsin. Sun Prairie’s Nick Noskowiak and Neenah’s Matt Heldt also signed letters of intent Wednesday to play for the Golden Eagles.
"It is something special to get three kids like this to go to an in-state school," Ellenson said. "I know in the recruiting process you can get kids from all over, but to get good talent in your own state is huge. That’s something the fans like to see.
"It is nice to get something going at Marquette. Coach Wojo is a hard worker, and he’s going to put us to work every day. That’s something that I want. I want to be pushed to success, be pushed to greatness. I’m excited to be going to Marquette with three other great guys who I know want to work hard and are gym rats that love the game of basketball. That’s something that excites me."
The buzz and excitement surrounding the future of the Marquette men’s basketball program is at an all-time high, which is impressive considering a coaching change recently took place.
Wojciechowski opened eyes by bringing in one of the top signing classes in the nation, but made a statement landing Ellenson.
"I think this program is already one of the top programs, but I want to help make it an elite program," Ellenson said. "It is going to be a school that is going to be in the NCAA tournament all the time winning national championships.
"I want to help get it to be an elite program. It is part of me believing in Wojo in what he can do, but it is also believing in myself that I can do it, too. It is a two-way street. I’m excited to get it there."
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