Like almost all of its peers around the country, the Iowa basketball program is dealing with the loss of a few players following the recently completed 2013-14 season.
As much fun as it can be reminiscing about the careers of departed Hawkeyes like Devyn Marble, it’s all the more enjoyable to look ahead to the future. So I’ll do just that, and start off with the first player in this year’s recruiting class to commit to coach Fran McCaffery.
Meet Brady Ellingson.
The 6-3 shooting guard from Menomonie, Wisconsin (shocked as I was, the place actually exists) will probably remind Iowa fans a lot of current senior-to-be Hawkeye Josh Oglesby. This is obviously due to the reputation of both players as prolific perimeter shooters, but to peg them as identical is a little unfair at this point in their respective careers.
Ellingson finished his senior season at Sussex Hamilton High School posting 25.4ppg. Helping the sharpshooter reach that average was better than 91% shooting from the foul line along with 62 made 3’s. All of this despite missing a portion of the season after contracting mononucleosis.
When you watch Ellingson on film a few things stand out about his game.
First of all, he has all of the shot mechanics that make for the consistently efficient shooter he has been billed as. His motion is very compact in terms of moving the ball from the shooting pocket up to the release point, and there isn’t a whole lot of wasted effort no matter how far from the basket he is. Ellingson maintains good balance on the vast majority of his shots attempts, and lets the ball fly near the apex of his jump off of the floor.
Also present in this impressive shooting motion is an extremely quick release. Ellingson has the ability to get his shot off both off of the dribble and in catch-and-shoot situations. This quick release will become even more important at the collegiate level, when longer and more athletic defenders close out on shooters much faster than players are used to seeing in high school/AAU.
In terms of defense and some of the other more subtle aspects of the game, the jury is still out on Ellingson’s abilities. He is neither a dominant athlete nor physically imposing, so guarding more talented players will likely take a period of adjustment once he arrives on campus like it often does for freshman. He also doesn’t have nearly the same height and length that recent Hawkeye shooting guards have possessed, so playing multiple positions could be stretch.
When looking ahead to next season it’s hard to see a clear spot in the rotation for Ellingson. The Hawkeyes will be returning two older players in Josh Oglesby and Peter Jok who would seem to fill the role of designated shooters, and unless Ellingson shows an unexpected amount of improvement and/or ability once practices begins you’d be hard pressed to see him pass either of the two elder statesmen on the depth chart.
Then again, Coach McCaffery has shown that he is not afraid to play a freshman over an upperclassman if he believes that player gives the team the best possible chance to win games.
Far be it for me to peg Ellingson’s role down before he ever sets foot on campus, but if I had to guess I would think that barring injuries to some other players he will likely redshirt his first year in Iowa City.
Should he prove to be able to contribute right away you won’t hear any complaints from me. That being said, it’s not always such a bad thing to spend a year on campus building strength, stamina, and improving one’s all-around game without burning a year of eligibility.
In closing, it has been said that a team can never have too many shooters. If that’s true, Iowa fans should be excited because another one will arrive on campus this fall in Brady Ellingson.