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Why Henry Ellenson should win BIG EAST Freshman of the Year

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The highest-rated recruit since Doc Rivers had an incredible season for Marquette.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

October 9, 2014 will be a day that is forever remembered in the minds of Marquette fans.

Henry Ellenson, of Rice Lake, Wisconsin, committed to the Golden Eagles over schools such as Michigan State, Kentucky, Duke, and North Carolina, all of whom offered the big man.

For Steve Wojciechowski and Marquette, Ellenson signified a turning of the tide in Wisconsin collegiate basketball, as he was MU's highest-rated recruit since Doc Rivers in 1979.

Ellenson's freshman campaign lived up to all the hype surrounding him, and he should be the pick for BIG EAST Freshman of the Year.

Need evidence? you've come to the right place!

Offense

From the jump, Ellenson established himself as an offensive force. He had 21 points in Marquette's season-opening 83-80 loss to Belmont, and would reach the 20-point mark eight other times in the season.

In fact, Ellenson reached double-digits in 30 of Marquette's 31 games, with the Gavitt Games loss to Iowa being the lone exception where he only tallied three points.  This scoring prowess landed him first on Marquette's single-season freshman scoring list with 520 points, the first freshman to reach the 500-point mark in a season. The previous record was set in 2005-06 by Dominic James who scored 473 points.

Ellenson also finished third in the BIG EAST in scoring, with 16.8 PPG. Since 1994-95, only three other freshmen have finished in the top three in the conference in scoring: Boston College's Troy Bell, Notre Dame's Troy Murphy, and Syracuse's Carmelo Anthony. All three of those players went on to win BIG EAST Freshman of the Year, and all three also went on to had successful professional careers, with Bell starring in Europe and Murphy and Anthony becoming long-time NBA players.

Part of what makes Ellenson so successful on the offensive side of the basketball is his success in shooting midrange shots. Ellenson takes a whopping 50.2% of his shots as two-point jumpers, and connects on 43% of those. Most taller players will rely more on high-percentage shots at the rim, but Ellenson only takes those 26% of the time.

Defense

On the other side of the ball, Ellenson is just as lethal. He led the BIG EAST in rebounding this season with 9.7 per game, becoming just the fifth freshman since 94-95 to do such (Murphy, Seton Hall's Eddie Griffith, Anthony, and Seton Hall's Angel Delgado are the other four). Of those 9.7 per game, 7.6 came on the defensive boards. Ellenson's 304 total rebounds this season is a Marquette freshman single-season record, passing Bo Ellis' 264.

Ellenson also recorded the second-most blocks in Marquette freshman single-season history with 47, which ties him with teammate Luke Fischer for fourth in the BIG EAST this season.

Accolades

Ellenson has been named the BIG EAST Freshman of the Week eight times this season. That ties him with the aforementioned Troy Murphy for third-most all time. Allen Iverson has nine while Carmelo Anthony has 10, so Ellenson is certainly in some dignified company.

He also made the list of 10 finalists for the Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award, and was also named a finalist for the Waymon Tisdale Award, given to the nation's best freshman.

Conclusion

For all intents and purposes, BIG EAST Freshman of the Year is Ellenson's to lose. Xavier's Edmond Sumner may give him a run after a late surge in conference play, but it's hard to believe Ellenson, one of the nation's best freshmen, would lose out, especially after being as good as advertised all season.

The BIG EAST Freshman of the Year will be announced Wednesday afternoon prior to the start of the BIG EAST Tournament.