Earlier this year, when St. John’s Edge head coach Jeff Dunlap talked to Wally Ellenson about the possibility of his joining the NBL Canada expansion team, the 23-year-old from Wisconsin expressed some interest in coming to Newfoundland, but said the timing wasn’t right.
There was something he needed to do.
That something was taking a crack at making the roster of the Oklahoma City Blue, who had made Ellenson — who played NCAA Division 1 basketball at Minnesota and Marquette — a fourth-round pick in the most recent draft of the G-League, the NBA’s development circuit.
“So he went his way and we kind of went on our way and we filled the roster with who we had to start the season, but we still tracked and followed him,” said Dunlap.
Ellenson did make the Blue, but was waived by the team just three games into his G-League season.
“However, in the G-League, with waivers and everything, it takes a little time before a player is completely out of their clutches. The other thing was, at the time, we still had a full roster,” said Dunlap.
But in this case, things worked out timing-wise.
Last week, just as the Edge released wing Marcus Lewis, Ellenson cleared all the G-League impediments.
“By that time, we kind of had run the experiment with Marcus to a point where we determined he didn’t really fill a slot for us,” said Dunlap.
“So now, we’ll bring Wally in and see if we can groom him into possibly being a contributor.”
ndications are that he should be, since Ellenson is not an unknown quantity in NBL Canada.
In 2016, following his third NCAA year and his one and only season at Marquette, the 6-6, 2010-pounder joined the Windsor Express and was named to the NBLC all-rookie team after averaging nearly 10 points a game.
These days, no initial reference can be made of Ellenson without mentioning he is the older brother of the Henry Ellenson, a power forward with NBA’s Detroit Pistons and the 16th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. But Dunlap insists the elder Ellenson has talent, too.
“He’s athletic, with a high basketball IQ. He shoots the ball well. He run pretty well and he has a very high motor. He’s bouncy … can fly around and cause some havoc,” said Dunlap.
Ellenson was a guard in college, but will likely be used as a swing forward with the Edge.
“We’re good with our 1’s and 2’s, with the prototypical point guards and shooting guards,” said Dunlap. “I’m looking for that 3-4 guy, a swing forward who is versatile enough to do some things outside and inside.
“We think Wally can help us there. We’ll see.”