Many coaches who flourish early in their tenure can point to landing a program-changing recruit as a pivotal moment in their success.
For new Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski, power forward Henry Ellenson could be that guy.
Ellenson, Rivals.com's No. 17 recruit in the class of 2015, committed to Marquette on Thursday, choosing the Golden Eagles over fellow finalists Kentucky and Michigan State. The skilled 6-foot-10 Wisconsin native is the fourth Rivals 150 prospect Wojciechowski has landed in this class, joining shooting guard Haanif Cheatham and fellow Wisconsin products point guard Nick Noskowiak and center Matt Heldt.
That loaded recruiting class should help Wojciechowski reinvigorate a program that endured a rare down season in Buzz Williams' final year and may have to withstand another one this year. Marquette lost its three leading scorers from an unremarkable team that finished 17-15 and ended the program's eight-year streak of making the NCAA tournament.
While not even the addition of BYU transfer Matt Carlino is likely to help Marquette contend in the Big East this season, it should be easy for fans to be patient with Wojciechowski given the recruiting class he has assembled for the following year. He has sent a message to other top programs that it won't be easy to get top Wisconsin prospects to leave the state.
Ellenson is an especially significant addition because of his versatile offensive repertoire. He's at his best on the low block with his back to the basket, but he also has the ability to knock down jump shots or face the basket and attack. Wojciechowski wisely identified Ellenson as a top target immediately after being hired this past spring, even adding the big man's brother Wally via transfer from Minnesota in July.
The commitment from Ellenson also helps refute the notion that the new Big East won't be able to compete with other major conferences on the recruiting trail.
Earlier this fall, Villanova already landed Jalen Brunson, the top committed point guard in the Class of 2015. Now Marquette has an elite power forward, a star-studded class and hope that the rough patch it endured last season will be only temporary.
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