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Gophers freshman 6-4 wing Wally Ellenson saw his first playing time Tuesday night against North Dakota State after recovering from a broken bone in his left (shooting) hand. Many thought he would be redshirted this season.

David Joles, Star Tribune file

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Ellenson sees first minutes for U

  • December 13, 2012 - 9:47 AM

When Gophers men's basketball coach Tubby Smith said he planned on deciding Tuesday whether to redshirt Wally Ellenson, conventional wisdom held that he would hold the freshman back to retain all four years of his eligibility.

After all, the 6-4 wing already had missed 11 games because of a broken bone in his left (shooting) hand and the team had proven deep and effective without him.

But with 3:44 remaining in a 70-57 victory over North Dakota State on Tuesday, in came Ellenson, voiding the option for the year.

"He wanted to play. His parents felt comfortable with him wanting to play," Smith said of the decision. "I think he can be helpful. I think he can be a big help."

With Oto Osenieks struggling to score, Ellenson could find playing time if he proves to be an accurate outside shooter off the bench.

When he came in on Tuesday, he looked a bit jittery at first, but after turning over the ball, he scored his first career college point on a free throw.

A prep standout in Wisconsin, Ellenson is Rice Lake's all-time leading scorer, compiling 1,356 points in three years. He averaged 20.1 points and 8.9 rebounds as a senior.

"I know he was probably a little bit nervous, but everyone really is the first time you're stepping on the floor," teammate Austin Hollins said. "That's kind of what you expect. But he'll adjust, he'll be good."

AMELIA RAYNO

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