From many, there will be one. And while there’s still no guarantee contending athletes will win their own state at this point in the season, a number of elite performers are making a case for Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year consideration. Here’s the scoop on the latest top candidate.
Senior forward, Rice Lake (Wis.)
Greatness Present: April is shaping up to be a busy month for Ellenson, who has been invited to participate in the McDonald’s All-American Game on April 1 and the Nike Hoop Summit on April 11. That’s just weeks after the end of Wisconsin’s state tournament.
Then again, the 6-foot-11, 230-pound senior is no stranger to a full slate. Ranked as the nation’s No. 5 basketball recruit in the Class of 2015 by ESPN, Ellenson also earned MVP honors on Rice Lake’s track team in 2014, competing in the discus, high jump and triple jump. For a little additional context: His older brother Wally Ellenson is a two-time All-American high jumper who recently joined Marquette’s men’s basketball team as a transfer student; and, the family features a host of former collegiate basketball, hockey and football stars.
Still, basketball is Henry’s first love. And for good reason. He and Diamond Stone are just the sixth and seventh McDonald’s All-Americans in Wisconsin history, joining a quartet of former Gatorade Wisconsin Boys Basketball Players of the Year to earn the honor: Calvin Rayford (1990-91), Sam Okey (1994-95), Brian Butch (2002-03) and Kevon Looney (2013-14). Joe Wolf (1983), who earned his McDonald’s invitation just before the founding of the Gatorade program, rounds out the list.
Before his crazy-busy early spring, however, Ellenson will take aim at an elusive Division 2 state title. He has averaged 28.2 points, 12.1 rebounds, 2.6 blocks, 2.3 assists and 1.7 steals per game this winter, leading the Warriors to a 15-5 record entering the final week of the regular season.
Greatness Past: Ellenson collected 27.5 points and 13.1 rebounds per game as a junior last season, leading Rice Lake to the 2014 Div. 2 state championship game. As a member of the 2014 USA Basketball Men’s U17 National Team, he averaged 8.7 points and 5.1 boards in just 12 minutes per contest off the bench during the team’s 7-0 run to the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship in Dubai this past summer.
Greatness Future: Headlining a remarkable recruiting class, Ellenson will join his brother at Marquette, where they will play for first-year Golden Eagles head coach Steve Wojciechowski, the 1993-94 Gatorade Maryland Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
Make no mistake: The Gatorade State Boys Basketball Player of the Year races aren’t over, and the National POY race is now heating up. Time remains for one standout student-athlete among thousands to rise to the top of the list. Check back for daily updates on the top contenders making their case.