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December 3, 2013

Martin: Ellington will play Friday

Bruce Ellington doesn't like time off, and as far as University of South Carolina basketball coach Frank Martin is concerned, that's more than a good thing.

In fact, it makes his team better.

Like, immediately.

Three days after catching a team-high four passes for 51 yards against Clemson, senior Bruce Ellington was practicing with the basketball team and will travel to Stillwater, Oklahoma, with the Gamecocks (2-2) this week when they face Oklahoma State Friday night at 9:30 in a game that will be televised on ESPNU as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge.

"Bruce is off the charts," Martin said of Ellington, who averaged 9.9 points last year while playing 32.2 minutes per game. "Him practicing today made our team better, just because of his speed. He understands stuff, and he hasn't been to practice as much as last year.

"Last year he was able to sneak in every now and then and watch practice. He hasn't been able to do it this year because of the time we're practicing at. Twenty minutes in he already understood some of the things we're doing differently more than some of the guys who have been here eight weeks."

Martin said Ellington brings far more to the table than an understanding of the system thanks to having had a year of it under his belt.

"He brings that dynamic, a speed, a strength, that sense of urgency and a personality that becomes infectious," Martin said.

Martin gave an example of how in just one practice, Ellington's impact already is being felt and his teammates already improving.

"(Ellington) took the ball today, and it was kind of a broken situation, and he didn't know if he was supposed to keep attacking or slow it down and he just slowed it down and called an offense," Martin said. "Well, I didn't say a word. The next time Ty had the ball, Ty called an offense.

"That's been my fight with Ty for the whole preseason. I'd say, 'Ty, as a point guard you have to get guys on the same page. That's your job.' Just that one moment with Bruce made Ty do his job because that's what Bruce brings, that dynamic of winning that's demanded of him in football."

Martin said Ellington's schedule was a work in progress and that the details would be ironed out between the football and basketball staffs in the next week as South Carolina's bowl situation becomes clear. Martin said Ellington would return to the football team once it began practicing for the bowl game.

For now, Ellington is practicing and he definitely will play against No. 9 Oklahoma State, Martin said.

"(Ellington) understands the basic fundamentals of our defensive concepts, so if he screws things up, he might screw them up on offense a little bit, which I can kind of live with because you can always play around a mistake on offense," Martin said. "It's hard to play around mistakes on defense.

"He understands our defensive concepts, which is the most important part. He's one of those special athletes, he understands it and his body can sustain it."



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