Ellenson announces transfer to Marquette

The sophomore finished his Gophers track and field season last month after quitting the basketball team in February.

Minnesota high jumper Wally Ellenson practices at Bierman Athletic Field on Tuesday, April 30, 2013.

Daily File Photo, Amanda Snyder

Minnesota high jumper Wally Ellenson practices at Bierman Athletic Field on Tuesday, April 30, 2013.

Joe Perovich

 

 

Sophomore Wally Ellenson, one of the nation’s premier collegiate high jumpers and former Gophers basketball player, announced Wednesday on Twitter that he will transfer to Marquette University.

Ellenson was a two-sport athlete for a year and a half at Minnesota before leaving the basketball program in mid-February.

“I’m excited to join Marquette University and be part of the basketball family. #wearemarquette,” Ellenson tweeted Wednesday afternoon.

On Monday, Gophers head track and field coach Steve Plasencia said he thought Ellenson “still has basketball aspirations.”

“I think at this point in time he’s kind of assessing what he’s going to do with his future here,” Plasencia said Monday.

By Wednesday, Ellenson had made an official decision.

Plasencia said Wednesday that he had seen the reports on Twitter, but he did not want to comment until he had received official word from Ellenson.

Plasencia indicated Wednesday’s report was not a surprise.

“That’s been kind of where things have been headed for a while,” Plasencia said.

Bert Rogers, Marquette’s head track and field coach, said Ellenson visited the school last week.

“There’s always whispers here and there about what’s going to happen, but on our end of things, it’s [been developing] in the last couple weeks,” Rogers said. “[Ellenson] came to visit about a week ago … and that went really well, and so we felt like we had a pretty good shot at getting him. Once the ball got rolling, it went pretty quick.”

Due to NCAA transfer rules, Ellenson will not be eligible to play basketball for Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski during the upcoming season.

Still, Wojciechowski said in a statement that Marquette was “thrilled” to welcome Ellenson to the Marquette basketball team.

“Wally is a young man of outstanding character. He is an elite-level athlete and adds talent, athleticism and competitive spirit to our basketball team. We are extremely excited about the impact he will have at Marquette,” Wojciechowski said in the statement.

Rogers said Ellenson’s track and field eligibility has yet to be determined. He also said he realizes it’s a “basketball-first” situation at Marquette.

“I just finished my 10th year at Marquette. This is a first as for sharing with men’s basketball,” Rogers said.

It will also be the first time that Marquette’s track and field program has had a high jumper of Ellenson’s caliber.

“Our indoor record is 7 foot 1/4 … and our outdoor record is like 7 feet 1 inch, and that’s from the 1990s, I think,” Rogers said.

Ellenson cleared 7 feet 4 1/2 inches at last month’s NCAA outdoor championships.

As a freshman, Ellenson placed eighth overall in the high jump at the 2013 NCAA outdoor championships. At the same event last month, he placed second.

On the hardwood, Ellenson played in nine games for the Gophers last season and averaged 1.8 points per game.

Ellenson’s younger brother, Henry, is the fifth-ranked high school basketball player on ESPN’s Top 100 list for the class of 2015.

Henry has not decided where he will attend school yet, but he has a scholarship offer from Marquette.