Off-The-Court Changes Lead To Big Improvements For Henry Ellenson
A summer ago, Henry Ellenson (Rice Lake H.S./Rice Lake, Wisconsin) made the roster cut as a finalist for the 2013 USA Basketball U16 National Team, but his hopes for a gold medal were suddenly gone when he found out that he didn’t make the U16 squad.
The tough reality check of being so close to the dream and yet not there at all, prompted Ellenson to make some changes to get better, faster and stronger.
After losing 30 pounds over the course of a year, Ellenson is back at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, this week, to participate in the 2014 USA Basketball Men’s U17 World Championship Team training camp.
“I slimmed down quite a bit; I lost 30 pounds. I was 260, and now I’m 230 so I dropped quite a bit and added some muscle,” Ellenson said of his off-the-court adjustments. “I feel a lot quicker; I feel I can run faster and a lot longer than I did before. I just feel lighter on my feet. My legs feel a lot better, that’s for sure.”
After making it through the roster cut yesterday, he is now one of 17 guys left who are vying for one of the 12 roster spots that will make up the men’s U17 USA World Championship Team and will travel to compete at the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, August 8-16.
“It’s been a couple of long days,” said Ellenson of the strenuous practice sessions the guys have been undergoing.
“We’ve been doing two-a-days but it’s been a lot fun being here, knowing that you made the top 17 cut, and that you still have a chance to make the team.”
The slimmer and stronger Ellenson has stood out from the group by looking sharp during camp so far. He has quickly displayed his abilities, showing a solid outside shot, as well as a strong presence in the post.
“I feel I can bring a lot to the table for this team. I can hit the outside shot, I can go post up, I can go coast-to-coast; I can be versatile.”
“It also helps knowing the guys,” he said about being involved with USA Basketball for the fourth time. “It helps with chemistry.”
“It also helps knowing coach Don Showalter (Iowa City H.S., Iowa) because he knows my game and knows how to use me; that’s helpful.”
As with anyone participating in an important event in their lives, Ellenson is grateful that throughout these last few days of training camp, he has had the best and most supportive group around to cheer him up: his family.
“My parents just left this morning, but I was really excited to have them here,” shared Ellenson on having dad John, mom Holly and younger sister Ella, supporting him during the first few days of camp.
“They surprised me when they came in so I was really happy to see them. My mom would have probably stayed the whole week if she could have.”
Having his support system watching from the sidelines meant a lot to him, especially because when it comes to the Ellensons, a basketball family is an extremely accurate definition.
Hi dad played collegiately at Marquette and Wisconsin, and later on professionally in France, while his mom played at Wisconsin-La Crosse and Wisconsin- Eau Claire. His brother Wally, a recent Marquette transfer, will not only shine on the basketball court for the Golden Eagles, but also participate in the track team; and brother Ellwood will play at Bemidji State in the fall.
Naturally, this much basketball expertise in one family signifies some serious tidbits of advice and knowledge thrown his way.
“My dad says, ‘you’re going to be tired and you’re going to be challenged, but just go after it because some kids who aren’t here would love to be here, so just give it everything you’ve got and don’t take it for granted. If it’s something you want, go after it.’”
Looking better than ever and with his family behind him, Ellenson is ready to make this summer count and make sure that this year, when the official 12-member team is announced, his name will be in the mix.
“It’s an honor to be here and to put on that USA jersey. That’s really special.”
Oh, and in case any one was wondering if youngest sister Ella was also a basketball player, Ellenson made sure to clear that up while stating an evident fact.
“Oh yeah, she plays basketball too. We’re just a big basketball family.”