Wally Ellenson will leave the Gophers men's basketball to focus on track and field, the University of Minnesota announced on Tuesday.

The sophomore was a first-team All American a year ago after advancing to the NCAA Outdoor Championships, placing eighth in the high jump with a mark of 2.20 meters. On the court, however, he hadn't played a minute in a Big Ten game. Ellenson averaged 1.8 points and 1.3 rebounds in 6.9 minutes a game through nine non-conference games this season. 

Last year, the 6-6 wing was also played on spot minutes under former coach Tubby Smith after the decision was made not to redshirt him after a broken bone in his left hand kept him out through the first 11 games.

"I think the timing, more than anything, was a little surprising," Gophers coach Richard Pitino said. "But he wasn't playing a lot. I know that was frustrating for him, and that's always frustrating for anybody. I think he felt like he could really help the track team. So he made the decision ... We wish him nothing but the best in anything that he decides to do in the future."

Ellenson leaving opens up scholarship for next season, meaning the Gophers still have two more they could use in the late signing period. Minnesota will finishing paying his scholarship for this semester.

Despite the abrupt timing, Austin Hollins said the departure wouldn't be a distraction to the team.

"Wally is a great young man," Hollins said. "He just wants to focus more on track and field and I hope for the best for Wally."

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