The Manawatu Jets have signed the first of their three restricted players for the upcoming Sal's NBL season.
Twenty-four-year-old Wally Ellenson is a graduate of Marquette University in the United States where he was a dual scholarship winner in Basketball and Track & Field. The 6'6" forward will little trouble elevating his game above the New Zealand rims as he was an All American and an Olympic qualifier in the High Jump. In fact, his personal best of 2.28m is only 2cm shy of the New Zealand High Jump record.
Jets Head Coach Tim McTamney says Ellenson could be exactly what he has been looking for with the season now only three weeks from tip-off.
“Plenty of research has gone into looking at Wally’s potential as a player in our NBL. Because of his ability in Track & Field, his basketball ability has flown under the radar somewhat, but he is an exceptional athlete with a great feel for scoring the basketball, and from range.
"Wally is an intelligent player, he is young and excited about the contribution he can make. He will fit perfectly with the young, athletic group we have put together as Manawatu Jets this season. I have a good feeling about this kid.”
Wally Ellenson hails from Rice Lake, Wisconsin, and comes from a family with a great history in sport. Father, John, played professional basketball in France while mother, Holly, played collegiately at UWEC. His siblings too, have fine pedigree, brother Ellwood competed in track & field and basketball at VCSU, and his sister Ella is a current player at Valparaiso University. Perhaps most notably, younger brother Henry is a 6’11 forward for the New York Knicks in the NBA. Pick-up games in the Ellenson driveway must be intense affairs.
Wally has played successfully in the Canadian NBL, for the OKC Blue in the NBA G-League and most recently, in Argentina, but is his latest stop in New Zealand is foremost in his thoughts right now.
“I am really excited about playing with the Manawatu Jets. This is a great opportunity for me and I am looking forward to showing our fans my ability to shoot the ball and play above the rim.
"I pride myself in playing harder than the next man and finding ways to win. I can’t wait to meet my team mates and the coaching staff and get to work.”
The Manawatu Jets play the 2 Cheap Cars Super City Rangers in the opening game of the Sal's NBL season on Thursday April 11 in Palmerston North.