The 5th rated player in his recruiting class Henry Ellenson has lived up to the hype at Marquette. Rated the 5th overall freshman by DraftExpress and currently 7th overall in their 2016 mock draft, Ellenson’s time at Marquette could be coming to a close in a few short months. But is he a great NBA prospect? Is he Kevin Love 2.0 as some make him out to be or is he a completely different player? Let’s take a closer look and break down his strengths and weaknesses.
Ellenson has the prototypical size of an NBA PF. Listed at 6’10” Ellenson also has a wingspan in the range of 7’2”. He has done a lot of work to get down to a reasonable weight. After weighing in at 261 lbs in 2012 he got down to 228 lbs in 2014. Realistically his weight is somewhere in the 230-240 range. Even with this great size he could stand to add some strength however (more on that later). He looks he has plenty of room on his frame to fill out (Anthony Davis).
“Oh he’s a tall white power forward must be a shooter.” As much as I hate that stereotype it rings true for Ellenson. While he has a lot of other talents shooting is the that will most likely be his bread and butter at the next level. The fact that he is only shooting 24.6% from three this season is misleading. A solid 73.5% free throw shooter Henry has what it takes to stretch the floor. He has a quick release and has shown enough that there is no doubt in my mind he can be a capable shooter. His face up jumper isn’t bad either.
If you any significant time watching Henry Ellenson one thing that really stands out are his ball handling skills. There aren’t many guys who are 6’10” and bring the ball up the floor after grabbing the rebound. He has also shown some ability to drive the ball. One play that stands out is a drive to a go ahead bucket late in the Marquette vs. Wisconsin game (see video). With a variety of dribble moves at his disposal his ball handling could make him a mismatch at the next level but he needs to refine his finishing ability.
Passing is another part of Ellensons game that his very refined. He is averaging 2.1 assists per game but he does have a negative A/TO of .85. Right now he is very focused on hunting for shots and he should be right now as he is one of the better scorers on his team. This isn’t bad, especially considering that he is one of five guys on his team with over 40 assists this season. As a young NBA player however he could make much more use of his passing. As he finds his place as a contributor at the next level I could see him being a guy that a teams offense could flow through
He is a solid rebounder right now averaging almost 10 rebounds a game. He does most of his work on the defensive glass leaving his teammate Luke Fischer to clean up on the offensive end. He doesn’t consistently box out but gets away with it because of his size. As he matures and adds more strength to his game I can see him being a solid rebounder in the league.
One of Ellenson’s biggest weaknesses in my opinion is his strength. He is what I would describe as fluid. He moves up and down the court really well. His explosiveness and strength are another matter however. He gets pushed around to easily and struggles to gain post position against stronger opponents. He also isn’t an explosive finisher which isn’t a deal breaker but could be an issue. If he went to the NBA today, I could see him being at the wrong end of the highlight reel blocks. Granted he is a Freshman and he has lost some unneeded weight so he can’t use his weight to his advantage like he used too. He looks like he has plenty of room to fill out however and give him a couple years and he could be much stronger.
Feel for the game
His other big weakness in my opinion is his general feel for the game. Ellenson is an extremely talented player but at times it looks like he tries to do to much. Sure it might be a great and exciting play when he takes it coast to coast. However, when there are four teammates and five defenders ahead of you trying to take it coast to coast is just plain selfish/dumb. He hunts shots to the point that he misses easy buckets (LSU clip in video) which is something he will need to work on. He also doesn’t have a great touch around the rim and can struggle to finish shots that are arguably easy for a player of his caliber.
Ellenson is one of the more unique players in college basketball. It is not often that a player of his size and skill level comes around (looking at you too Ben Simmons). He is far from a sure thing however and any team that picks him in the top five and expects great results in the first two years will be hurt. For an NBA comparison I would compare him to Frank Kaminsky but with less touch around the basket and a lot more upside. I think he most definitely projects as a Power Forward who can spot time at Center if he gets bigger. Without a doubt he needs to get stronger and explosive to succeed and develop more consistency on his three point shot. His fluidity and fundamentals will land him in the top ten of the 2016 NBA draft.