Henry Ellenson goes to Detroit Pistons at No. 18
New York — A dream that began on the basketball courts of Rice Lake, Wis., became a reality Thursday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Henry Ellenson, a 6-foot-11 forward who played one season of college basketball at Marquette, achieved his goal of making it to the NBA when Commissioner Adam Silver announced the Detroit Pistons had selected him with the 18th pick in the NBA draft.
With the selection, Ellenson became the fourth former Golden Eagles player to be taken in the first round during the lottery era. Dwyane Wade was the No. 5 pick in 2003, Lazar Hayward went 30th in 2010 and Jimmy Butler was taken 30th in 2011.
Surrounded by his family members, Ellenson acknowledged them all before going onto the stage to shake Silver’s hand and put on his Pistons hat for the first time.
As a family, the Ellensons grew up playing basketball together, dividing themselves by eye color. Henry’s older brothers, Wally and Ellwood, played a large role in helping their little brother improve, challenging him at every step of his development and including him in their pickup games.
In college, Henry and Wally played together at Marquette last season. When the season ended, Ellwood accompanied Henry to Los Angeles, where he trained for the draft.
“There was a lot of enjoyment going through that process with (Ellwood),” Henry said. “It’s the people you share with that make the road special.”
Before the draft, Henry admitted he didn’t know how he would feel when he heard his name called. On Thursday night, he was one of the multiple green room guys who had to watch other players come out of the stands and take the stage ahead of him.
However, it getting selected alone was a validation of his efforts and those of his family around him.
“It shows all my hard work is paying off and I’ve been doing the right things,” he said Wednesday. “I know it’s taken a lot of sacrifice being in the gym at night and putting in a lot of hard work. A lot of family support — I know I’m not the only one who has sacrificed. I know my parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents were all there.”