By; Jonah Steinmeyer, Minnesota contributor
With Ralph Sampson and Trevor Mbakwe set to graduate after this season, as well as the potential of losing junior Rodney Williams to the NBA Draft, having a solid 2012 recruiting class is vital for Tubby Smith and company.
With that in mind, Tubby did not want to miss a step. Wally Ellenson of Rice Lake, Wisconsin, is the Gophers’ first verbal commitment of the 2012 class. Ellenson, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard, is renowned for his dunking abilities, but Tubby believes Ellenson has a real future ahead of him as a scorer.
“[Tubby] talked about my role,” Ellenson told the Star Tribune. “He said I could be a shooting guard coming in and I would be relied on to make a lot of shots.”
Ellenson is a three-star recruit according to Rivals.com and had already been offered by such teams as Nebraska, Oklahoma State and West Virginia. He is familiar with the state having spent the past summer playing with Minnesota Pump ‘N Run.
Although Ellenson’s commitment isn’t going to blow minds away with his name or game, it should be considered a real win for Minnesota basketball fans. To sum it up, they swooped a solid recruit away from his home state and ultimately, a rival school. There have been countless occasions where Bo Ryan ends up with a Minnesota kid who matures into a top contributor for the Badgers, most recently Jordan Taylor and Jon Leuer.
Whether Ellenson can play the dagger-to-the-heart role that Taylor and Leuer have done their whole careers against Minnesota remains to be unseen, but you can certainly consider this a step in the right direction in what should be Tubby’s most important recruiting class yet.
YouTube page of High Jumps and Dunks